Sundays, when I was a child, would revolve around my father, waking late on his one day off of the week, sorting through cupboards, delving into the back of the fridge, scraping together the leftover vegetables and whipping up a lasagne, or delving out the week's leftover cheese and weaving out a seemingly-elaborate risotto as an early dinner. Paired with the fact that, for most of my teenage years, I was a strict vegetarian, not something that agrees well with the traditional Greek cooking that I might've learned from my mother's family, it's no wonder that, when I first began developing an interest in cooking - for myself and friends - Italian cuisine was what I gravitated to, and it's always where I end up settling, when I'm in need of a little...comfort.
There's a lot of debate, among (mostly Italian) foodies as to whether Mac 'n' Cheese is actually Italian, at all, but there are various members of my (estranged) family who might just hunt me down and throttle me for daring to suggest it's not based on a traditional version of Carbonara - so I'm going to leave well alone. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I have altered the original recipe, out of both practicality (the Fontina cheese my family claims to be 'vital' isn't sold everywhere), and taste (I found the full-fat cream in my original far too rich, and instead opted for an idea Nigella Lawson suggested, in her version; evaporated milk). Come to think of it, she also uses Red Leicester cheese - so much for my 'traditional roots'!
It's hardly a waistline-friendly meal, so I haven't ever bothered to calculate the nutritional information (I firmly believe the odd 'cheat meal' is good for the soul), but I am working on a healthy option, which I'll (hopefully!) be sharing in the next month or so.
Macaroni Cheese: (Including some adaptations from Nigella Lawson's version, here).I have to apologise for the rubbish pictures accompanying this post, but I wasn't really sure I'd bother to share the recipe until I posted on Instagram and there was some interest in it - sorry!
Makes 6 servings.
- 250g macaroni pasta (I use white, just because it's easier to buy, but you're welcome to try wholegrain).
- 2 medium eggs.
- 200g Red Leicester cheese, grated.
- 200g mature cheddar cheese, grated.
- 250ml evaporated milk (you can use cream, if you prefer a richer taste).
- 3/4 tsp powdered nutmeg.
- 1/2 tsp salt.
- Preheat your oven to gas mark 8, and prepare the macaroni; there should be instructions on your pack, but generally, you want to boil it in lightly salted (we're talking a teaspoon) water for about 12 minutes to get a nice al-dente pasta. It'll soften slightly in the oven, so just be aware.
- In the meantime, whisk together your two types of cheese, making sure they're fairly evenly mixed. I'd recommend doing this manually, with a balloon whisk, as it ensures the cheese is relatively coarse.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they're just combined, then add the evaporated milk, whisking until it's just incorporated. Throw in your nutmeg and salt.
- Add half the egg mixture to your cheese, pouring it over the top slowly, and mixing well. When it's incorporated, add the remaining liquid mix.
- Once the macaroni's cooked, take about two tablespoons' worth of the water it was boiling in, and pour it straight into the cheese mix. Then, drain the macaroni and combine that, too.
- Pour the macaroni cheese mixture into a pyrex dish (mine's about 33cm x 24cm), and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the top starts to brown slightly.