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Classic old-school macaroni cheese
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This old-school favourite is packed full of flavour. If you’re short on time don’t bother to infuse the milk. Use a strong cheese.
1 small onion, peeled
6 black peppercorns
50g butter, plus extra for baking
50g plain white flour
1 tsp English mustard
a good squeeze of lemon juice
200g strong cheddar, grated
salt and black pepper
a shake of Worcester sauce/mushroom ketchup (optional)
50g white bread
½ garlic clove, peeled
a bit of parsley
a bit of grated lemon zest
Start your sauce: Put the onion, peppercorns and milk into a pan and heat to the point of boiling. Remove from the heat and leave for 30 minutes for the flavour to infuse. Strain though a sieve and set aside.
Meantime, cook the pasta. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta. Cover. When it boils again, take the lid off and cook until al dente (check your packet for timings). Drain. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the flour. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon over a low heat for 2 minutes to cook out the flour. Remove from the heat.
Very gradually, beat the flavoured milk into the paste with a balloon whisk or spoon until absolutely smooth. Return to the heat and stir until the mix boils and thickens, adding a splash more milk if necessary. Lower the heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mustard, lemon juice and cheese and season to taste, adding a dash of Worcester sauce/mushroom ketchup if you like.
Mix the pasta and sauce together. Tip into a large buttered dish
or a few small ones. To make the topping, blitz the bread with the garlic and parlsey. Add the lemon zest and scatter over the top. Dot with butter or a few drops of oil and bake for 20–30 minutes, until bubbling and golden.
Spoon into bowls and enjoy on the sofa. Or serve up with roasted whole vine tomatoes and green beans.
Recipe taken from:
VIRGIN TO VETERAN by SAM STERN, published by Quadrille (£20, hardback)
This recipe was first published in September 2012.