BEST MACARONI AND CHEESE I’ve ever made!
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
freshly ground black pepper
30 g butter
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
3 tsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
500 ml milk
1 packet Four Cheeses sauce mix
250 gram smoked bacon, chopped
500 g dried macaroni
2 whisked eggs (optional)
2 large tomatoes and 1 sliced in slices for garnish
100 g Cheddar cheese, freshly grated & 50 g extra
100 g Tussers cheese, freshly grated & 50 g extra
a few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 splashes Worcestershire sauce, optional
1/2 tsp nutmeg, optional
2 big handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
Get a large pan of salted water on the boil and add sliced onion.
Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour and turn the heat up to medium, stirring all the time, until you get a paste – this is your roux.
Add all the garlic – don’t worry about the amount because it will caramelise and cook in the roux.
Keep cooking and stirring until golden.
Add the bay leaves and slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time to ensure you get a nice smooth sauce.
Mix packet of Four Cheese mix with a little bit of water and add to your thickened sauce.
Bring the mixture to the boil, then leave it on a low heat to simmer and tick away, stirring occasionally.
Preheat your oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7.
Add the pasta to the pan of boiling salted/onion water and cook according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes on a board and season them well with salt and pepper. Keep 1 tomato for decoration.
Drain the pasta and add it immediately to the sauce. Give it a good stir and take the pan off the heat.
Stir in your grated cheeses. Keep aside.
Fry your chopped bacon till cooked and add chopped tomatoes and thyme leaves. Fry 1-2 minutes.
A little Worcestershire sauce added now is nice, and so is a little grating or two of nutmeg.
Now work on the flavour – taste it and season it until it’s hitting the right spot. Add to pasta mixture.
If using eggs, now is the time to add them and mix well.
If you’ve made your sauce in an ovenproof casserole-type pan, leave everything in there; if not, transfer it to a deep earthenware dish.
Decorate with sliced tomatoes.
Mix 50 gram Tussers cheese and 50 gram Cheddar with your breadcrumbs, coat with olive oil and mix with your hands.
Top your Mac and Cheese with breadcrumb mix.
Bake it for 20-30 minutes in the oven, until golden, bubbling, crispy and delicious and golden all over.
Serve your macaroni cheese with a lovely green salad.
Recipe and photo: Amanda Conradie