I don’t think anyone is too old for Mac and Cheese, ever! It’s a nostalgic dish that brings back a lot of memories at least for me, and a lot of others I know too.
There is just something about chewy pasta drenched in a creamy, tangy cheese sauce and then covered with more melty cheese. Throw in a cheese pull or two and you’ve got yourself a party.
There are loads of Mac and Cheese recipes out there, and believe me when I say I’ve tried A LOT. Some are good, some a bad and some are downright excessive. I wanted to come up with a recipe that was no fuss, a little more grown up and first and foremost REALLY CHEESY. I think we nailed it. I mean, just look at those cheese pulls below?!
This recipe is pure cheese indulgence, and we’ve gone heavy on the cheese here. There are five different cheeses in play, 4 of them construct the cheese sauce and an extra one joins the party on top. The cheeses we’ve used are:
- Mild Cheddar
- Red Leicester
- Mozzarella (Topping only)
These all compliment each other, the cheddar brings creaminess, Red Leicester brings the colour and the Comte and Gruyere bring some incredible flavours. All of these cheeses are widely available in UK supermarkets.
The Video Tutorial
Very Cheesy Mac and Cheese
- 2x Large Sauce Pan
- 1 or 2 large oven safe / grill safe dishes
- 400 g Spiral Pasta
- 50 g Plain flour
- 50 g Unsalted butter
- 500 ml Full Fat Milk
- 1 tbsp American Mustard
- 1 Level tsp Smoked Paprika
- 50 g Mild Cheddar
- 50 g Comté Cheese
- 100 g Gruyere Cheese
- 100 g Red Leicester Cheese
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Medium Mozzarella Ball
- 50 g Mild Cheddar
- Measure out the cheese (minus the Mozzarella) and then grate into a large bowl - keep the cheese for the cheese sauce separate to the topping cheese.
- Measure the flour, butter and milk.
- Drain the mozzarella and squeeze any excess moisture out using your hands. Tear the mozzarella ball into small shreds. Set aside.
- Start by making a Roux - equal parts flour and butter plus milk.
- To make the roux, melt butter in a saucepan on a medium/low heat until just melted. Add the flour and paprika and mix with a whisk to combine fully. Allow to bubble for a minute or so, whisk it often.
- Start by adding the milk in small batches. Whisk the milk with the butter and flour combination on the heat. It will thicken a lot at first. Roughly 5 batches will work well. Top Tip - adding the milk slowly prevents lumps forming.
- When all the milk is added, add the mustard and slowly bring the sauce up to the a simmer. Whisk often to prevent it catching on the bottom. Ensure this simmers for around 5 minutes at least to cook out the floury texture/taste.
- Once simmered, take off the heat and add all the grated cheese under the ingredient group "Cheese Sauce". Whisk to combine and fully melt, there should be no lumps.
- Taste and add salt if needed - we found a small tsp of salt was perfect to bring out the flavours.
- If you're a confident chef, the pasta can be started when the roux is being started. If not, the pasta can be made after the cheese sauce is complete, it will keep ready to go.
- Add about 1 litre of water to a large saucepan and and a tbsp of table salt. Bring the water to the boil.
- Add the pasta and cook according to the packet timing. Should be roughly 12 minutues.
- Once cooked through (to check - take a bite, if there is a white ring inside the pasta, keep cooking), drain the pasta thoroughly.
Making the Mac & Cheese
- In the oven proof dish(es) and first a layer of pasta. Top Tip - These are amazing when portioned into individual dishes. Small oven proof dishes would work good, if you have them.
- Next add a layer of cheese sauce.
- Repeat this process until the dish is full to 3/4 of the way.
- Sprinkle on the 50g on Mild Cheddar and scatter the mozzarella around the top evenly.
- Place the dish(es) under a pre heated grill (180C) and grill for about 5 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is golden brown and fully melted and stringy.
- Prepare all the ingredients first - get the grating done and the measuring done so you can focus on the cooking aspect.
- Allow the butter and flour to bubble for a minute to allow the flour to combine and cook out a little.
- Adding the milk slowly is the key to a lump free Béchamel, as is whisking often and keep the heat low-medium.
- It seems like a lot of cheese, and it is, but it's necessary to get this really really cheesy.
- If you're a confident chef, start cooking the pasta just before the roux and then, when the roux is finished, the pasta should be ready. If you're not, don't worry. Cook the pasta after the cheese sauce is finished - cheese sauce is easier and better to let stand than pasta, pasta can become sticky and gluey id you leave it too long.