9 July 2014

Best macaroni cheese with bacon, mushrooms and spinach


I make Mac and Cheese all the time. And I think I make a bloody good one too! I usually do a version of a (now very heavily) adapted Nigella version. Instead of using the roux method (mixing flour and butter and adding milk - results are too claggy and stodgy IMO) I make a cheese sauce by whisking hot stock with grated gruyere coated in cornflour. This is then mixed with mascarpone to create a silky, salty, creamy - amazing - cheese sauce. Add to this some torn mozzarella - the macaroni, obvs - and some grated parmesan on top, and you've basically got calorific heaven on a plate. For health reasons I always add some vegetables, this time mushrooms and spinach as my kids will happily eat both (oh, and I chucked some bacon in too as we needed to use some rashers left in the fridge). I have NEH-VAH witnessed my children eat something so quick, then ask for more. It was a happy mealtime!

This recipe makes a large a baking dish full (see below pic), enough for 6 adults. But we had a little left over so I finally used my little blue ramekins. Adam always has a go at me for spending Selfridges wedding vouchers on these ramekins, saying we never use them. Well, look, I used them! HA!

This is a brilliant dish to serve to children and adults too as everyone loves it. Make it ahead (up until the baking stage) as it doesn't suffer. Freezes well too.

Serves: 6 adults
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes 
Total time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:
300g macaroni pasta
200g gruyere
3 tablespoons of cornflour
800ml chicken stock (or veg)
250g mascarpone
1 x 125g ball of mozzarella, torn into pieces
A few rashers of back bacon, sliced into lardons
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
125g spinach
Salt (a small pinch)
Pepper
2 teaspoons of English mustard
50g parmesan, grated

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Cook pasta in a large pan filled with boiling salted water, for 2 minutes less than it says on the packet (it'll cook more later). Set aside when done. 
  3. Meanwhile, grate the gruyere and toss in cornflour. Make some hot stock (or bring some homemade to boil) and, either using a microwave or on the hob, whisk the flour/cheese into the boiling broth. Heat some more and it should start to thicken. Add the mascarpone and whisk again, heating through. 
  4. Fry off first the bacon for a few minutes. Set aside. Now the mushrooms over a very high heat for a few minutes, and take off as soon as they become brown, before the start to exude water. Set aside. Toss the spinach in the same pan, off the heat, it'll wilt in seconds. 
  5. Add the sauce and bacon, mushrooms and spinach to the macaroni. Tear in the mozzarella and combine. Add mustard and seasoning. Stir again and taste. You'll think it's way too saucy - but that's good, the pasta will soak a lot up remember. 
  6. Tip into a large baking dish - if it's too much then tip the excess into little oven proof bowls and either freeze or keep in fridge until needed. Top with grated parmesan and bake for 35 minutes or until bubbling and brown. 
  7. Serve as is. Inwardly sing as your kids eat lots!

2 comments:

  1. This sounds delicious! One of those dishes I don't really want to make as I know I'll eat it all myself...

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    Replies
    1. Hi! It is indulgent, but also there are veggies in it too! Make it and freeze the rest? It's really very nice, lovely comfort food... x

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Please leave a comment - all feedback is greatly appreciated! Thanks, Rachel x