lhave eaten a lot of macaroni cheese. There are recipes that do things like use cottage cheese instead of sauce, insist that cheddar needs help from obscure French friends, or allow only 37g of macaroni per person. For a classic macaroni cheese you can count on, stand over a large pot of béchamel and personally fill it with cheddar and some key accessories.
For 5-6 persons
unsalted butter 100 g, plus 3 tablespoons for the top
flat flour 75g
milk 1.2 liters
adult cheddar cheese 275 g, grated, plus 50 g for the top
English mustard 1 tbsp
nutmeg ½ tsp, freshly grated
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6 and bring some salted water to the boil for the macaroni.
Cook the macaroni for 2 minutes less than directed on the package, drain and set aside, reserving half a ladle of pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the 100g butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and nicely beige. Add the milk little by little (about 100 ml at a time). It takes you on a whole journey, thickening before smoothing out again. All you have to do is keep stirring. Switch to a whisk if that helps. Once you’ve added all the milk, keep the sauce on the stove and stir in the cheese, followed by the mustard and nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the macaroni to the sauce, along with the pasta water, and stir until evenly combined. Transfer straight into a wide, shallow baking dish and use a flexible spatula to get to all of the sauce.
Melt the extra butter and mix with the extra cheese and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle this mix over the macaroni cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until everything is golden brown.
From Carbohydrates by Laura Goodman (Quadrille, £15)