Monday, 6 August 2012

Macaroni cheese

This is one of Mr PTC’s favourite dishes (mainly because he didn’t eat cheese for the 10 years prior to us meeting each other, so now he thinks he needs to make up on lost cheese), so although it may not be a typical summer dish it ends up on our table regularly.

There are so many recipes out there for macaroni cheese so I am not entirely sure I need to share this. However, this is a version that is easily adapted to be free from cow’s milk (using goats cheese for Mr PTC). I have also in the past substituted in a dairy free cheese with decent results, but a different flavour. The best recipes suggest mixing your cheeses, but as I am yet to find a good substitute for Parmesan, I’m sticking to just one goat’s milk cheese. The cost of this recipe is really dictated by the cost of the cheese. Using a speciality goat's milk cheese, or a mixture of cheddar, parmesan and Gruyere costs about £1.14 per serving depending on the source of your products. You can make this for as little as 60p per serving if you buy a basic cheddar though. 

I also usually make double the quantity we need for dinner (i.e. the 4-person recipe below) and take it to work the next day. It is lovely reheated, granted not quite as good as fresh, but is a welcome break from sandwiches! I also serve this with salad in the summer to increase our fruit/veg intake, and in the winter I often add some cauliflower into the macaroni.

Macaroni cheese

Serves 4
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes + 15 minutes
Cost: £4.57 (£1.14 per serving)

275g cheese (cheddar or equivalent – swap 50g for Gruyère and 50g for parmesan for a really lovely flavour)
50g white bread, crusts removed, breadcrumbed
3 medium tomatoes, thickly sliced
280g macaroni
700ml milk (we use oat milk, semi-skimmed is fine but it won’t be as rich)
50g butter or baking margarine
50g plain flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Finely grate the cheeses. Toss about 50g of the cheese in with the breadcrumbs. Butter a dish about 30x20x55cm and heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/GM5.

Cook the macaroni according to packet instructions, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Warm the milk in the microwave and melt the butter in a pan. Stir the flour into the butter, cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk one third at a time, beating well in between each addition until it is smooth. If at the final stage it remains lumpy, don’t worry, return to a low heat and keep beating.

Drain the macaroni. Return the sauce to the heat and simmer, stirring frequently until the sauce is thickened, smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and mustard. If the sauce is too thick at this stage you can add a little extra milk as required.

Stir the macaroni into the sauce, ensuring that the pasta is coated (you can add more milk again if the sauce is too thick). To save on washing up I actually make the sauce in an stove/oven safe pot, so I then just pour the paster in and mix away.

Pour the macaroni cheese into a buttered dish (unless you are cheating like me and are using the same pan as the sauce pan - don't worry about buttering), scatter over the breadcrumbs and lay the tomatoes on the top. Place in the oven for 12-15minutes until it begins to bubble. You can brown it off under the grill if you like a crisp top.


1. Try substituting the mustard with 2 tsp paprika – different flavour but still delicious.
2. Add in cauliflower florets with the macaroni. Some people prefer to steam the cauliflower first, I prefer just to let the cheese sauce cook it slightly in the oven providing a good crisp texture.

N.B. The cost of the meal is calculated on the day that this blog entry was published, using Sainsbury's online groceries as a reference for pricing. Each item is costed by weight used not by the total cost of a bottle/packet of that product.

Thanks for stopping by,
Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com

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