when i asked Jessica if she’d like to contribute a food related guest post I didn’t give her any direction because I knew that anything she made would be amazingly tasty. i had a good laugh when she sent me this. i was having a discussion with my brother just the other day about what our last meals on earth would be if we could choose, and of course i said mac and cheese. my mom’s mac and cheese, more specifically, but Jessica’s version looks it might be the winner (probably due to this line: “Aim to use as much cheese as possible! More than you think is appropriate.”)
Diana and I have known each other since we were 7 years old. That’s almost 22 years I have been witness to her love affair with cheese. On occasion she has described herself as having “a penchant for nice cheese”. More like fervent enthusiasm. I have a letter from our schoolgirl days in which Diana compares our friendship to no less than 25 different cheeses:
“… the legend of the Cheesemasters will live on … like mozzarella melting over a tomato covered pizza base … like Cheddar, Pecorino, Emmenthal and Parmesan; like Havarti, Sweetmilk, Motali and Brie … “ dot dot dot etcetera dot dot.
Her #1 cheese based dish of course, is Macaroni and Cheese. It has to be the ultimate comfort food. And boy is this recipe not the most delicious macaroni cheese I have ever tasted. Aim to use as much cheese as possible! More than you think is appropriate.
I adapted this recipe from Hawksmoor at Home. They make use of distinctively English cheeses, namely Stilton, Ogleshield and Montgomery Cheddar. I chose Taleggio for its excellent melting ability, and an aged Gruyere for its fruity flavour.
- 500g macaroni
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 600ml milk
- 60g butter
- 60g flour
- 250g Strong Cheddar, grated
- 200g Gruyere, grated
- 150g Taleggio, crumbled
- Maldon sea salt
- white pepper
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- You can make four individual macaroni servings, or bake in a medium-sized oven proof dish. Brush the dish with half the olive oil and rub with the cut clove of garlic.
- Cook the macaroni in salted water until al dente. Drain and refresh under cold running water, then mix with the remaining oil.
- In a saucepan bring the milk up to boiling point, then reduce the heat and keep warm.
- In another saucepan melt the butter over a medium heat, whisk in the flour and keep whisking until you have a pale golden ‘roux’ or grainy looking paste. Return this saucepan to a medium heat and ladle the hot milk into the roux, a cup at a time, whisking all the time and completely incorporating each cup of milk before adding the next one. After all the milk has been added, continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and bubbles gently (about 2 minutes).
- Take the pan off the heat, add the taleggio, gruyere and 125g of the cheddar, and stir until completely incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
- Pour three quarters of the sauce over the pasta and mix well. Tip the mixture into the baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce and half the remaining cheddar.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheddar and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until brown.