Perfect macaroni cheese

One for cheese lovers - Allegra McEvedy uses mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar and gruyere for her macaroni cheese in her favourite family supper
By Allegra McEvedy
Perfect macaroni cheese
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 60 g butter
  • 200 g smoked bacon lardons
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled, crushed slightly with the edge of a knife
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 800 ml full fat milk, warmed
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 pinches ground nutmeg
  • 160 g strong hard cheese, half gruyere and half cheddar, grated is a good combination
  • 1 x 150 g mozzarella, roughly diced
  • 350 g macaroni, cooked al dente

For the topping

  • 6 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 40 g parmesan, finely grated
  • 3-4 pinches dried mixed herbs, (such as oregano, thyme or rosemary)
  • drizzle extra virgin olive oil

For the salad

  • 1 butter, round or soft English lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • half a cucumber, sliced
  • a couple of spring onions, sliced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets and blanched
  • small handful of toasted flaked almonds

For the dressing

  • glug extra virgin olive oil
  • splash red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic
  • sprig of rosemary

Tips and Suggestions

You can watch Allegra make her cheese sauce
here.

Method

1. Heat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/gas 6.

2. Melt about 20g butter in a saucepan set over a medium heat and fry the bacon, stirring regularly, for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.

3. Heat the remaining 40g butter in a large saucepan and fry the garlic clove for one minute, or until softened.

4. Add the flour to the pan and stir to combine, then continue to cook for a further minute, stirring vigorously, or until the flour has darkened slightly in colour.

5. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the milk and stir until the mixture comes together as a thick paste.

6. Pour in the remaining milk a little at a time over a medium heat, whisking after each addition to incorporate it into the mixture. You should have a smooth sauce with the consistency of double cream.

7. Reduce the heat slightly and stir in the mustard and nutmeg. Remove the garlic clove from the mixture and discard.

8. Add the grated cheese including the mozzarella and stir well. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

9. Stir the cooked macaroni and bacon into the cheese sauce. Transfer the macaroni cheese to an ovenproof dish.

10. For the topping: arrange the sliced tomatoes on top of the macaroni cheese and sprinkle over the grated parmesan and dried herbs. Season, to taste and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

11. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and put the ovenproof dish on top to catch any drips. Bake the macaroni cheese for 30-40 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown and the macaroni cheese is bubbling.

12. For the salad: mix all the ingredients in a large bowl

13. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, taste and adjust to suit. Allow to infuse for 10 minutes, then remove the garlic clove and rosemary. Dress the salad just before serving along side the macaroni.

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