I wanted something to go with the peri-peri wings I made yesterday, and decided on a comfort food classic – mac and cheese. I’ve tried all sorts of recipes before, and honestly not a single one of them blew my mind, even though they were generally good. This time I based my recipe on the one on Epicurious, and while I find the crusty topping a good complement to the creamy pasta, the taste was still not mind blowing. Maybe I need to use better quality cheddar, or maybe it’s the seasoning. I’ll need to keep experimenting to find out.
Mac and Cheese
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 500 grams dried elbow macaroni
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups (1 litre) full cream milk
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) whipping cream
- 6 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard powder
Preheat oven to 205°C with rack in the middle of oven. Set a large, covered pot of salted water over high heat to a boil.
Meanwhile, make the topping. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and the extra-virgin olive oil until butter foam subsides. Add the panko and garlic and cook, stirring, until crumbs are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and set aside.
Add the macaroni to the boiling salted water and cook until just al dente, being careful not to overcook. Drain the macaroni and set aside.
In a large wide pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, whisking to incorporate and make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is light golden in color, about 4 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly to incorporate. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes more. Add 2 teaspoons salt, the white pepper, and the mustard powder. Add the cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan in three batches, whisking until each addition is completely melted before adding more. Remove from heat.
Add the drained cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, and stir well to coat. Transfer the macaroni mixture to a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour enough water to come up halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni, and bake until golden and bubbling, 18 to 23 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.