I had never even made mac n cheese before the other night, which shocked me because it is such a delicious meal. I hadn't actually eaten it for a couple of years which also came as a shock, and probably added to the reason why I loved it so much! I bought Lisa Faulkner's new cookbook (which is absolutely amazing by the way, will post a link at the bottom) the other day, and I found this recipe in there, and it worked perfectly. I was sceptical at first about using leeks in this dish as I'd never heard of it in mac n cheese before, and I wasn't even sure I liked leeks. But honestly, the leeks work so well in this - and they don't have an overpowering flavour like I thought they would - they are just soft which mixes well with the roux sauce. I'd never even made a roux sauce before and everyone always barks on about how difficult it is because it can get lumpy etc. But I had no problems with the ratio of milk, butter and flour, or with the method in this book. The sauce was so smooth, silky and cheesy that I practically ate half of it before it even went in the oven! This recipe has pancetta/bacon in, but of course it would be just as lovely without if you are vegetarian. The only complaint me and my mum had about this dish was that we wanted more! So definitely try this recipe, because it is hands down the best mac n cheese I have ever tasted....
(Sorry for the long intro and that the pictures aren't that clear/great. Need to invest in some fancy square white plates!)
Serves 4-6 (I halved it)
- 300g macaroni
- 75g pancetta, cubed (or bacon)
- 2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 600ml milk
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- a dash of Worcestershire sauce (like Lea & Perrins)
- 225g cheddar cheese, grated
- 75g parmesan cheese, grated
- 65g breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper
Few notes: definitely make sure you stick to the ingredients because they really do all add different flavours and textures to the dish which make it so delicious. Particularly the flavour of the Worcestershire sauce, and the texture of the crunchy breadcrumbs on top!
Also, don't be afraid of making a roux sauce, just stick to the method!
1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees. Cook the macaroni for 10 minutes in salted water, then drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, brown the pancetta over a medium heat, add the leeks and fry until softened. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, beating with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Cook this for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Add the milk gradually, stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened. Add the mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce and salt & pepper. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheeses (saving a little to sprinkle on top)
5. Mix the leeks and pancetta into the macaroni then spoon into an ovenproof dish. Pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs. (My sauce was quite thick so I mixed the sauce with the macaroni, leeks and pancetta, and then spooned into the dish - I'm sure the other way works just as well though!)
6. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until bubbling and crisp on top