Sometimes I feel like my life is going to be one long mission to find the ultimate macaroni cheese. For a long time my favourite one was found at Mishkins, even when I went in spring and they’d added a whole load of veg into the mix. After Mishkins sadly closed down, my best ever mac was replaced by The Mac Factory‘s chorizo studded creation in Camden. I loved this one so much that I got them to come and serve it at a Cambridge ball for 2000 people when I was organising the catering. My Mum, tired of my sister and I raving about this, replicated it for us at home and her version with added tomatoes became my favourite. My point is that whilst my favourite mac and cheese is always changing, the love for the dish itself remains pretty constant.
But these were all versions that other people made for me, and I wanted to try making it for myself. Hunting down my dream recipe provided the perfect procrastination for a week until I finally bit the bullet and tried a variation of Jamie Oliver’s ‘killer mac and cheese’. I’m not saying my search for ‘the one’ is over as it’s not yet up there with The Mac Factory fabulousness, but I’m definitely getting closer.
For me, I think the key is actually not baking the mac and cheese for very long – if at all. The joy for me is the saucy, melting, stretchy goodness that I find can quickly turn stodgy and dense if grilled for too long. My pet peeve in life is also crispy pasta – I can’t bear it. But of course, if that crackly top is king for you, feel free to leave this under the grill a while longer. ‘The one’ is different for everybody.
- 15g butter
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1tbsp flour
- 250ml milk
- 150g macaroni
- 100g cheddar, grated
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of lightly bubbling water, until just before al dente – with a little bite left in it.
Meanwhile, fry the garlic in the butter until fragrant. Add the flour and cook out for one minute. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Return to the heat and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add all the cheese, stirring until melted. Season generously with lots of pepper.
Drain the pasta and tip into the sauce. Now – which way are you going to go? Either now tip into a bowl and dig in, or tip into a baking dish, grate over a little extra cheese and grill until its how you desire – 5-10 minutes for a crisp cheesy topping.