If you’re wondering why I’ve called it both macaroni cheese and mac ‘n’ cheese in the same title, the answer lies with my mother.
It’s not a long story. Essentially, my mother dislikes it when we English people use American terms. So, when I told her that I was going to make this dish, she politely and sternly told me I would probably be disowned for calling it anything other than Macaroni Cheese.
However, I understand that people will search for both so, in the spirit of inclusion, I’ve called it both.
Not a massively interesting story but, there you go.
I have an admission to make to you all…
I don’t think I’ve ever had macaroni cheese before this moment. Mother will probably set me straight on this but I can’t, for the life of me, ever recall eating it. I’m aware of what it is, obviously. And there are some mouthwatering pictures of the stuff out there. It’s just never really wandered into my gastronomical orbit.
So I set out the rectify this in the only way I know how.
By going massively overboard.
I made enough to feed my entire family and packed it full of bacon, 3 kinds of cheese, garlic and spring onions.
Because I refuse to do these things by half.
You are perfectly entitled to make a normal sized amount or, you know, actually feed a large group of people instead of eating all over the course of a couple of days. But that is just not how I roll, I’m afraid.
Obviously, this meal is somewhat counterintuitive vis-a-vis my usual “healthy recipes” rhetoric. But sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned comfort food. Calories and carbs be damned!
This meal is not gluten-free, vegan, dairy free… It’s not anything free, come to think about it. I’d say it’s alcohol-free, but I can’t even guarantee that.
How was my first foray into the world of “mac ‘n’ cheese”?
Breathtaking. Why have I not been eating this all my life?
Aside from the obvious fact that it’s probably not the healthiest meal to eat every day (especially not when I’m finished with it).
This is one of those special meals you need to make when you’re feeling a bit peaky or it’s freezing outside.
This would go down and absolute treat at a BBQ! Loads of grilled meat, a good homemade coleslaw (don’t start getting lazy on me) and a nice fruity wheat beer. Oh Lord, I have to do this right now!
Let’s get down to business before I forget about this and eat the rest of mine.
Word of warning. You’re going to want to make some Béchamel Sauce for this. Don’t worry, I’ve put the recipe here. Because I’m nice.
Mine included some pulled pork I had left over, but you can leave it out. If you don’t care….
Macaroni Pasta (cooked to slightly before al dente, drained and kept in the pan)
Béchamel Sauce (the one with more milk so it’s a pour over sauce and be very careful with your salt)
Bacon Lardons (you know, the bacon chunks)
Mature Cheddar (grated)
Mozzarella (cut up into chunks)
Cream Cheese (like a Marscapone or something)
Garlic (crushed and finely chopped)
Spring Onions/Scallions (separate the green tops from the white bottom bits. Thinly slice both but keep them separate)
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
- Make your Béchamel Sauce. Remember to whisk it a lot so it doesn’t go lumpy.
- In a large-ish frying pan, heat up some oil.
- Start by frying your bacon until it starts to reach your perfect level of crispiness.
- Throw in the white spring onion bits, garlic and herbs. Fry lightly for about 6 minutes.
- Pour over your Bechamel and give it a good stir, keeping it at a low heat
- Stir in a couple of spoons of cream cheese.
- Throw it in the pan with the pasta and stir it. Making sure all the macaroni gets a lovely coating.
- Throw in the Mozzarella chunks and stir it again. You want it pretty spread out so you don’t end up with clumps of cheese… doesn’t actually sound that bad now I’ve typed it…
- Pour it all into a baking dish and sprinkle the green spring onion tops over it.
- Sprinkle the grated mature cheddar over the top.
- Pop it in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the top gets that lovely crust.
- Serve. Eat. Go into food coma. Wake up, eat more. Wonder why you can’t stop…. just one more bowl…. WHAT HAVE I BECOME!!?!