the BEST Macaroni Cheese

the BEST Macaroni Cheese
The Best Macaroni Cheese
This has to be one of the tastiest Macaroni Cheeses I have ever had.  Mature Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere cheeses, pancetta, cherry tomatoes and garlic & herb breadcrumbs... delicious!!

Serves 6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
For the Cheese Sauce
1 litre/1 pint 15 fl oz whole milk (you can use semi-skimmed)
2 bay leaves
40g/1 ½ oz unsalted butter
50g/2oz plain flour
150g/6oz gruyere cheese, grated
150g/6oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp English Mustard
A good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground salt & pepper

For the Pasta
1 tbsp butter
80g/3oz pancetta, diced
4 shallots, sliced
400g/14oz macaroni, cooked according to packet instructions
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
Splash of milk

For the topping
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 slices of bread, crusts removed
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan


1.       Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
2.       For the sauce, place the milk and bay leaves into a pan and put on a medium heat.  Heat until boiled and then remove from the heat.  Remove the bay leaves.
3.       Meanwhile, in another pan melt the butter over a medium heat.  Stir in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes (don’t let the mixture turn brown).
4.       Add a splash of milk to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  Continue to heat and stir, gradually add more milk until a smooth sauce has formed.  Add any of the remaining milk and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
5.       Remove from the heat and add the cheddar & gruyere cheese, mustard, nutmeg and salt & pepper.
6.       For the topping, place the garlic and parsley in a food processor and blitz, then add the bread and pulse until you have crumbs then add the parmesan  and mix together, pour in the melted butter and pulse until all it has all mixed together and set aside.
7.       For the pasta, melt the butter in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat, add the pancetta and the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes until the pancetta starts to go crispy.  Add the cooked macaroni, cherry tomatoes and the pre-prepared cheese sauce.  You may need to add a little more milk to loosen the sauce if it is too thick.  The sauce should coat the macaroni not drown it.
8.       Pour the macaroni into an oven proof dish, top with the breadcrumb mixture and place in the over for 8-10 minutes.
9.       Pre-heat the grill to its highest setting.  Remove the macaroni from the oven and place under the grill until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling.

Cooks Tips

v  Experiment by using a variety of cheeses, why not try some dolcelatte.
v  You can substitute the shallots for a leek.
v  Add a bit of spice with a sprinkle or 2 of cayenne pepper.

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