Sixty years ago, the English writer GK Chesterton wrote, `If an Englishman has understood a Frenchman, he has understood the most foreign of foreigners....
Monday, 11 July 2011
The ultimate comfort supper. Just look at it. Bubbling hot from the oven,cheese oozing out, inviting you to have a forkful. While watching the pennies a bit more recently, this plain homely dish often appears on the menu. Little bits of salty bacon added or not as you prefer. Slowly cooked onion adding sweet buttery flavour. A few green leaves for your hearts sake and that's all it takes.
The one thing I am fussy about is the sauce. It needs to be thick as the water from the pasta can dilute it and make the sauce very runny. I want something that sticks to my ribs. If you can be organised enough (I am not but try to make the effort for this.) add a peeled onion chopped in half, a handful of black peppercorns and a couple of torn bay leaves to the milk the night before you make it. Not hugely important but if you try it you will be glad you did. Don't throw the onion away as it can be cooked to go into the dish. We don't want to waste anything now do we?
I use about 75g-100g (3-4 ounces) macaroni per person cooked as per packet instructions. I would like to warn you at this stage that when I cook pasta I could feed the street with it. I never seem to get it quite right.
Now when it is cooked and drained throw in a lump of butter. Yes I know it's supposedly bad for you but nothing tastes quite like it. Now just do it. It's wonderful. Trust me.
Strain the milk if infusing, reserving the onion.
Now finely chop the onion and gently fry in a little oil and butter (yes more butter) for about ten to fifteen minutes in a small pan until it is very very soft and sticky. Keep the heat low and don't let it burn. Set it to the side
For the Sauce
50gms/2 ounces butter
50gms/2 ounces flour
350 mls milk infused as mentioned above if possible
1 large teaspoon of mustard, whatever you have in the cupboard will be fine
A good shake of cayenne pepper
As much and as varied a choice of cheese(s) as you want. In other words whatever you have in the fridge.
I like to use strong cheddar and parmesan. I also like to top it with mozzarella. Delicious
Melt the butter and then stir in the flour letting it cook for a few moments over a low heat to get rid of the floury taste.
Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard and a little milk. keep adding the milk a little at a time and using a whisk get it all blended in.
Return to the heat and keep stirring until it is thick. Then keep stirring until it becomes very thick.
Remove from the heat and stir in the onion, cayenne pepper and your chosen cheese.
Now stir in your macaroni and put it all in a buttered pie dish and top with mozzarella if desired. This bit is not necessary but did I tell you it's delicious?
Set the whole thing on a long piece of oiled foil and pull the foil over the top to form a loose parcel.
Pop into the oven at 180.C/350.F/gas4 and bake for half an hour or so then remove the foil top to let it brown.
Serve with some good for you salad leaves. Enjoy