And a Happy New Year!
Is it really possible to enjoy heavenly comfort food without feeling bloated afterwards? Well, for me I just can’t deal with a lot of differing fats on one plate. So, there is no butter, very little single/light cream and lots of cheese in this recipe. And, for those of you who have to cook for picky eaters, lots of hidden vegetables. Yet, this had the soft, velvety and creamy consistency of a proper mac’n'cheese – not that I’m an aficionado on macaroni cheese. However, I do like coming up with fairly easy to make recipes that are an absolute pleasure to eat. Admittedly, with lots of salad!
Update: I’m in the process of making this again and this time around I was left with 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) of stock rather than 400ml (0.84). Plus, I’m using one of my favourites, a Double Gloucester cheese with chives and onion. The cheese wouldn’t thicken the sauce like the mature Cheddar did last time. So I’ve had to almost double the amount of roux used to get the consistency needed. Not exactly a problem. Especially as it only takes several minutes to make more roux. And it’s noticeable in the third photo that as I couldn’t grate this particular cheese I added it to the top in small chunks instead, most of which ended up floating in the centre rather than around the sides as well. I’m going to go back to using a mature Cheddar next time as it’s not only easier to work with the result was better overall. Still, in that photo it’s possible to see just how creamy the sauce turned out. There’s also a little bit of steam showing. Yay!
Serves 2 – 3
- 120g (4.23 oz) or more x carrots, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, peeled, trimmed, cut in half then either 2 or pieces
- 2 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 2 x medium garlic cloves, peeled and root end cut off and discarded
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped in half
- 10 x juniper berries
- ¼ x scant tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ x tsp dried thyme
- 1 x organic very low salt vegetable stock cube
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water (you should end up with 400ml (0.84 US pt lqd) after cooking the stock)
- 2 x dst oil, plus more if needed
- 2 x dst plain (all purpose) flour, plus more if needed
- 100g (3.52 oz) x dried macaroni, bring plenty of lightly salted cold water to a boil, add macaroni and simmer for only 5 minutes – see instructions below
- single/light cream, only about 2 glugs or think 1 x level serving spoonful
- up to 160g (5.64 oz) x mature Cheddar cheese, grated
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put all numbered ingredients into a large saucepan with a lid, put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Remove the garlic and both pieces of the bay leaf and allow to cool slightly. Drain through a metal colander into a suitable bowl, then mash on the vegetables lightly with a large spoon to be able to extract as much liquid as possible. By that stage there should be 400ml (0.84 US pt lqd), if not just top up with water. Strain the stock through a fine wire metal sieve back into a saucepan and add the garlic and bay leaf.
- Meanwhile prep the macaroni by putting a saucepan on heat No 4 with plenty of lightly salted cold water and a lid. Bring to a boil, add the macaroni, bring back to a boil then reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for 5 minutes only. Drain into a suitable bowl straight away, then plunge the partially cooked macaroni into very cold water until they’re absolutely cold. Drain once again and set aside.
- Put a small saucepan on heat No 1 with the flour and oil. Stir through occasionally to prevent the possibility of lumps forming. If any bubbling occurs take off heat. Repeat the process to cook out the flour. Take off heat and set aside. Simply repeat this step with more flour and oil if needed.
- When needed either add the stock to the runny roux (flour and oil) and put on heat No 3. Stir pretty much constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to neat boiling point, the consistency at this stage should be just thicker than a gravy. Take off heat and add just over half of the cheese and stir through (this will really help to thicken the sauce). Pour in a glug or two of single/light cream and continue to stir through. The final consistency of the sauce should cling unto the macaroni rather than dripping off it.
- Preheat oven to 200°C, 400°F or Gas 6.
- Add the partially cooked and well drained macaroni to the sauce. Then carefully place the mixture into a suitable casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly on top and bake (in my case on the second shelf up) until the sauce is bubbling. Do not over fill the casserole with the mixture, allowing enough room to add the extra cheese with a little space between it and the rim. The sauce can and will bubble and there could be overspill. To prevent this use a baking tray lined with greaseproof or parchment paper underneath the casserole dish to collect any drips or overspill. Switch off the oven, switch on the grill or broiler. Carefully remove the macaroni cheese and set aside (if using a Pyrex type casserole do not place on a cold surface! Place on a t-towel). Place the oven rack or shelf closer to the grill (if your grill is within the oven like mine) and grill until the cheese is nicely golden on top.
All photographs within Feed the piglet:
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