macaroni cheese


when i saw the post by kevin from seriously good, announcing the mac-n-cheese-off that he and cookiecrumb from i’m mad and i eat, were planning i knew i had to get involved!

i love macaroni cheese. it’s my ultimate comfort food and is something i make far too infrequently so any excuse to indulge is a good excuse.

for me, macaroni cheese is best when it is made using a mix of good quality interesting cheeses that have been leftover from a cheese board. a strong nutty cheddar (i used extra mature davidstow this time) is a must as is parmesan but beyond that anything goes - the last macaroni cheese i made had stilton, brie and a hard ewe’s milk cheese in the mix!

tomatoes are also an essential part of my dish. i grew up eating macaroni cheese with slices of tomato on top. at this time of year i tend to roast my tomatoes to add extra flavour.

other essentials – english mustard to add a kick and extra depth to the sauce, and penne rather than the smaller macaroni. then it’s just a matter of making sure that the top is nice and crunchy under which there is plenty of creamy sauce to coat the pasta.

i’m fascinated to see what everyone else comes up with. and if you have different ways of making the ultimate macaroni cheese, let me know. after all, as i said earlier, any excuse is a good excuse!

macaroni cheese (serves 6)

24 cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

350g penne

50g butter

40g plain flour

1 heaped teaspoon english mustard powder

750ml full-fat milk

150ml double cream

250g mature cheddar (or 100g cheddar plus a mix of other cheeses)

100g grated parmesan

freshly grated nutmeg

salt and pepper

preheat the oven to 200c.

prick the cherry tomatoes with a fork. mix them with the oil and roast for 30-40 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the macaroni cheese (they will produce some juices which you can stir into the macaroni cheese just before you put it in the dish to bake).

cook the penne until just cooked.

melt the butter then stir in the sieved flour and mustard to make a roux. cook this for 1 minute then gradually add the milk, stirring all the time so you don’t get any lumps. bring to the boil, stirring all the time, as the sauce thickens.

reduce the heat then add the double cream and cheeses. cook over a low heat, stirring all the time, until the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth again. add any tomato juices you have plus nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

put the macaroni cheese in an oven-proof dish (c25cm x 25cm) and top with the roasted tomatoes.

bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling hot.