There are certain recipes that take me right back to my childhood. I can see us sitting around the round kitchen table in Forge Lane and waiting for mum to pull the macaroni cheese out of the grill and serve it to us.
We’d all squirt a bit of ketchup on top as that was ‘before Italy’ and it tasted good anyway.
I decided to try the recipe on the girls to see if they liked it as much as we did as kids and they did, asking for seconds! The only difference I made was to add in a bit of bacon I had lying around in the fridge and I’m glad I did as it added colour and texture to this already delicious meal.
In fact I’ve made it since and chopped in a few sausages that had been cooked previously and cooled and it had equally good results.
Another time I added some roasted vegetables I had leftover which would make the perfect veggie dish for tea one evening.
Here’s the basic recipe – you decide how you’re going to pimp yours
- 300g macaroni (penne and fusilli work just as well)
- ⅚ slices of smokey bacon rinds cut off and chopped into bite size pieces
- 25g butter
- 25g flour
- pinch of pepper
- 450ml milk
- ½ tsp English mustard
- 125g Cheddar cheese (or a mixture of cheeses) grated
- Chopped chives to sprinkle on top
- Black pepper freshly ground
- Parmesan and bread to serve
- Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes until al dente. drain and rinse under a hot tap
- Gently fry the bacon in a non stick pan - no oil should be needed as it will sweat it's own out, remove to one side.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and pepper and stir for 1 minute.
- Gradually add the milk stirring all the time to avoid lumps.
- Continue stirring whilst simmering for about 2 minutes and feel the sauce thickening.
- Add the mustard.
- Stir ⅔ of the grated cheese into the sauce. Add the bacon and most of the chives keeping back a little for garnish.
- Add the pasta, season with black pepper and transfer to an ovenproof dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over and place under a preheated grill on its highest setting.
- Grill until the top is brown and crispy.
- Snip some chives over the top with scissors and serve with parmesan cheese and fresh bread
- Can be made in advance and reheated to serve.