Macaroni cheese – but not as you probably remember it!
I’ve had some pretty nasty macaroni cheese in my lifetime, and I’m willing to bet you have too. I can see it now, but could I really taste it? Probably not, because so much macaroni cheese is soppily tasteless mush designed (as one of the fish dealers in “We feed the world” says) “for selling, not for eating.” It’s as if whoever made it forgot to add any sort of cheese at all…maybe there’s some milk powder in there, but good GOD, who knows?!
Anyway. Here is a recipe which I chopped out of a Metropol magazine (for non-Christchurchians, it’s a pretentious upper middle class newspaper made up almost exclusively of ads and advertorials, delivered free to homes in more fortunate areas of town. I got mine when I was still living at home. Hah. What does that say about me?! Oh Well. The recipes were good), and which at the time looked great. It also had a decent amount of cheese. I’ve adapted it a little (only because I was too lazy to get some milk), but it’s still all good.
Ah, the crunchy cheesy top…Used to be the only thing I like about Macaroni cheese, before I discovered this recipe.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right without a good salad to balance out all that cheese. Now, to cheese-intensification!
serves 2 hungry students
half a 500g bag of pasta (I used spirals and some leftover small lasagne)
1/4 – 1/3 c plain flour
100ml cream + 2c water + 1/2c yoghurt OR 3c milk (approximate with me here!)
2-3 c grated cheese (try and chuck in a little strong stuff if you have some)
1 tsp curry powder
1 Tbs grainy mustard
1 tsp salt
lots of fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/2 tsp nutmeg
enough breadcrumbs to cover whatever baking dish you’re using
Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan (on medium low heat), add flour and incorporate quickly to create a paste. Cook the paste for about a minute, then add the cream, water, and yoghurt. Turn heat down to low, and smush out the lumps of paste with a wooden spoon, stirring as you go. After you’ve gotten out most of the lumps, you can put the pasta on, and start preheating the oven to 200C, with a rack on the top shelf. You want to cook the pasta until al dente eventually. Make sure you attend regularly to the sauce cooking, and stir frequently. Once it has thickened (to the consistency of pourable yoghurt), mix in 2/3-3/4 of the grated cheese and all the spices. It should change colour to a more glorious yellowishness. Let sit on low heat, stirring regularly, until the cheese is all melted. Once pasta is done, drain and pour into a 9″ baking dish or roasting pan. Pour over the sauce once done, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs (it’s good if you can toss them together first). Put it in the oven on the top rack and let bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until you can smell the cheese crisping and the top is a glorious golden colour.
While it’s cooking, why not prepare a quick and simple salad… I recommend this watercress cucumber salad with a yoghurt dressing, definitely with toasted pumpkin seeds (for this meal I also added some baby beets and some home grown baby radishes). You can use other leafy greens instead of watercress too.