Americans seem obsessed about a few food groups. Mac & Cheese falls into one of them.
I’ve not had Macaroni and Cheese since I was a teenager at home. And my recollection of it didn’t warrant making the sort of fuss I’ve seen of pins on Pinterest.
But given all the hoopla I decided I’d give it a crack. I’d mentioned to Mr Fussy yesterday that I would make it one night this weekend. He was not enthusiastic, to say the least. I told him I’d put bacon in it and some good cheese and it wouldn’t be so bad.
Then today after a little more grumbling and a particular comment it dawned on me that he hadn’t actually had macaroni and cheese. So I asked straight out. And you know what? He’d formed his opinion based on comments others had made. He’d Never Had It Himself!
Yes, he’s one of those people. Screws his nose up when he’s not tried it. Though I’m not much better, truth be told.
I thought I had bookmarked the recipe I was going to make but I couldn’t find it. I searched online and came up with one that sounded like it would be just fine. But then I looked at Pinterest, I’m not sure why when I’d made up my mind. And then I changed my mind.
I’ve been following Jenny Flake’s blog and Twitter for a month or so now. Her blog is called Picky Palate. Can you think why I might be interested in her blog? Mr Fussy. Jenny had a Mac & Cheese recipe. And it’s that recipe I adapted to make tonight’s dinner.
Macaroni & Cheese – adapted from Picky Palate
- 4 rashers of bacon
- 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
- 6 ½ Tbs Butter, divided
¼ Cup plus 2 Tbls Flour
3 Cups milk
2 ¼ c grated cheese, mine was made up with Cheshire – 250gm, Gruyere 100gm balance Colby
¾ c bread crumbs
¼ c Parmesan Reggiano, grated
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oven to 175 deg Celsius.
- Fry the bacon in 1 Tbs butter, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate with a paper towel.
- Don’t wipe out the fry pan. Add 4 1/2 Tbs of butter.
- Bring 2 litres of salted water to a boil and add the elbow macaroni. Cook as per packet instructions.
- Add the flour, stirring, cook together for a minute or so. Careful not to brown the mixture, though it will pick up colour from the fat left from the bacon.
- Add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps.
- Pour the mixture into a 4 litre sauce pan.
- Bring mixture to a boil and continue whisking. Lower heat and simmer for about five minutes until it thickens.
- While the milk is simmering clean the fry pan, then combine 2 Tbs butter and the bread crumbs, and melt together.
- Add the Parmesan cheese. This adds another layer of flavour.
- Cook until the butter is melted. Remove from heat.
- When the sauce is ready, add the cheeses. Stir everything together until the cheese has melted. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Season with salt and black pepper and stir to combine.
- Add the macaroni and bacon to the cheese sauce, mix it well, and when it’s nicely incorporated, spoon it out into a cooking dish.
- Sprinkle the bread crumbs on the top. Pat the breadcrumbs down with your hand to make sure it’s nice and evenly dispersed all over the surface. The topping becomes very crunchy when it bakes.
- Cook for about 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
As we were making this (Mr Fussy was in charge of grating the cheeses) I asked Mr Fussy what he thought of the cheese sauce. He wasn’t convinced. He thought one of them tasted a bit strange.
When we came to eat (that means when I was finished taking photos) I asked what he thought. He said the bacon really made it.
When Mr Fussy had finished and we were cleaning up I asked if he’d have it again. He said “Yeah, probably”. To which I did an eye roll. My MIL said that she’d never liked pasta and so never made Mac & Cheese for the family. She was dealing with her own Mr Fussy. But now she likes Pasta, which is good because we’ve been eating it at least once a week. Mr Fussy said he’d never had pasta until meeting me.
For a weekend/light meal, this would easily go 4 ways, if you’re serving it with a salad then you’ll likely stretch it even further. We were all full after dinner, but saved room for Strawberry Ice Cream, of course! There’s enough left over for a very generous meal for one.
I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with Cheshire cheese. The one we bought was made in Geraldine. We picked this particular cheese, which was with the Gruyere and Havarti cheeses, because it reminded us of our trip to Chester when we visited with Mr Fussy’s Aunt and Uncle during May this year. This cheese has sat in the fridge for about a month just waiting for the right time to use it. The cheese sauce in this Mac & Cheese was very rich and full of flavour. It’s fair to say Mac & Cheese today is very different to what I had as a teen. Can you believe I had Reggiano cheese in my fridge? I bought it last Saturday from the Mediterranean Food Warehouse. And we had Gruyere. Yay for me.