You know that saying about Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese? About how nothing quite beats its neon-orange powdered cheese? Yeah… I never subscribed to that thinking.
My sister and I didn’t have mac and cheese that often, but when we did have it, Mum would make it beautifully. We did, on occasion, have the boxed version, but it never tasted that nice to me. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, playing games with friends whereby you’d shut your eyes and guess what colour the pasta was that you were eating. Mum’s mac and cheese was sometimes made with tri-colour pasta. Clearly, we didn’t realise that all of the pasta tasted the same. I was also one of those kids that liked to eat their macaroni and cheese with ketchup. I know – it sounds gross, but the tomato sauce just brought a little something extra to it.
Nowadays, I don’t add ketchup to my mac and cheese…. much. There are times where sometimes it happens, but those times are few and far between.
I don’t often crave mac and cheese, in fact I very rarely crave pasta. I’m a rice girl, through and through. But last weekend I was hit with a desire for comfort food that would warm me up. It was still cold last weekend, not so this weekend.
Anyway, I digress. Everyone has comfort food. Food that reminds them of home, of warmth, of happy times. Food that reminds them of friends and family. Food that reminds them of home-cooking, watching your parent or grandparent whipping up something that made you smile. I have many comfort foods. Cottage pie, Good Woman’s soup, mac ‘n’ cheese, chocolate praline. Each one is linked to a very specific emotion, or brings forth a vivid memory.
Mac and cheese reminds me of sitting around the kitchen table, when I would have been about 9 or 10, with my sister and a couple of friends, laughing and eating dinner together. Whether it was because we were having a sleepover, or because our parents were eating later and they needed us fed and then left us to entertain ourselves.
I feel that now would be a good time to state that my mac ‘n’ cheese recipe is not healthy. It’s not something you should eat a lot of. But, everything in moderation, right? I should also point out that I don’t feel the need to use macaroni noodles in my mac ‘n’ cheese because any shorter pasta noodles will do: fusilli, penne, macaroni, farfalle – they’ll all work just fine. I also used gluten free rice crumbs, instead of breadcrumbs (because I need to use them) but feel free to switch it out for breadcrumbs if you prefer.
The beauty of this recipe, as with all mac ‘n’ cheese recipes, is that you can add what you want to it. It would go incredibly well with bacon or pancetta, or even broccoli! The choice is yours.
So, enjoy my version of macaroni and cheese with whatever side dishes take your fancy. I had some mixed veggies from the freezer that needed using up.
300 grams pasta
600 millilitres skimmed milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
50 grams Red Leicester, grated
50 grams Gruyere, grated
50 grams mature Cheddar, grated
1/2 cup white rice crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Over medium heat, add pasta to a large saucepan, pour the milk over so as to just cover the pasta (you may not need all of the milk in the ingredients list, so just use what you need). Add the garlic powder, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Place a lid on the saucepan, and allow the pasta to cook in the milk for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When the milk is almost completely absorbed, take the lid off and give the pasta one final stir.
- Turn off the heat, and add the cheese to the pan. Mix the cheese in thoroughly, ensuring all of the pasta is coated well.
- Empty the cheesy pasta into a large oven-safe dish.
- In a separate saucepan, add the butter over a low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the white rice crumbs (or breadcrumbs) and mix well.
- Take the crumbs off the heat, and sprinkle over the pasta. Place the dish into the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden on top.