Macaroni and Cheese has been around for over 600 years, and still only continues to get more popular. Unfortunately, these days mac and cheese has been relegated to the position of lowly side dish, although that isn’t how it used to be, and certainly isn’t how it’s supposed to be!
What do you want in a Mac and Cheese? A crispy top and a creamy, cheesy body obviously. That’s why our version has both an obscene amount of cheese and a flavoursome breadcrumb topping, to maximise both markers of the ideal dish.
Yes it has about a million calories, but if you really cared about that, you wouldn’t be looking at a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese now would you? For those who like it epically cheesy, this recipe should suffice, but you could always cut down on the queso-quantity if you want.
A word on cheese snobbery; this recipe calls for cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan and Velveeta, that horrendous American-style ‘cheese’ most famous for its use in ‘cheese flavoured slices’ and its lurid Donald Trump colour. I find it completely understandable if you want to save your insides and omit this, or swap it out for something else, but it really does add a flavour that can only be described as ‘ultimate cheesyness’. Trust me and keep it in, just don’t tell any poncy dinner guests…
The ultimate in cheesy decadence! A classic macaroni and cheese recipe with everything you want; a crispy bacon and garlic top with a creamy cheese-overloaded sauce.
- 800 mL whole milk
- 8 sprigs thyme large sprigs
- 7 cloves garlic
- 300 g elbow macaroni
- 40 g panko breadcrumbs
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 45 g plain flour
- 2 tsp nutmeg freshly ground
- 200 g cheddar cheese grated
- 200 g mozzarella cheese grated
- 100 g Velveeta (or similar) grated
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 75 g parmesan cheese grated
Preheat oven to 200oC
Combine the milk, 4 sprigs of thyme and 4 cloves garlic with their skins removed in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes before straining and setting aside.
Cook the macaroni for 1 minute less than the packet instructions. You want the pasta to be slightly underdone, as it will absorb more water from the cheese sauce in the over later on. Set aside.
Fry the bacon or pancetta over a medium heat until crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Finely chop the remaining garlic and fry it in 30 g of butter with the panko and leaves from the leftover thyme sprigs until the breadcrumbs are golden and fragrant with the herbs and garlic. Set aside.
Make a roux. Melt 45 g of butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the flour. Keep stirring for 2 to 3 minutes to cook out the flour. Take off the heat and slowly add the infused milk from earlier, whisking constantly. Add the milk bit-by-bit whisking each addition to ensure that it is properly incorporated before adding the next lot. Once all the milk has been added, return to the heat and keep whisking until the sauce has thickened.
Whisk in the nutmeg, cheddar, mozzarella, Velveeta and mustard into the sauce.
Combine the macaroni, 2/3 of the bacon and the sauce in a large baking dish and mix well to combine.
Sprinkle the top with the rest of the bacon, breadcrumbs and Parmesan before baking for 20 – 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Rest 10 minutes before serving.