Mac and Cheese needs no introduction, it’s American comfort food at its absolute finest and incredibly luxurious and creamy if done right. Often used as a side dish, this version is allowed to sing on its own by incorporating three types of cheese, mustard and the star – preserved sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe is for about four people, but it’s perfect for two with plenty of leftovers.
In this dish you will be taught how to make a Roux, which is the base for most white sauces and is essential in your kitchen repertoire. The good thing about knowing how to make a basic white sauce is that you can flavour it with anything you want – Go wild with cheese, add alcohol or spices. It’s hugely versitle.
This particular Mac & Cheese recipe has been developed for a couple months, adjusting cheese ratios, types of cheese, mustard/no mustard, number of sun-dried tomatoes, size of tomatoes etc.. After many, many variations the recipe given below if deemed to be the perfect Mac and Cheese to ensure luxuriousness, creaminess, balance of acidity and amount of sauce. The amount of sauce is very important, there is nothing worse than a Mac and Cheese which as very little sauce consistency to it – even if the taste is there, the consistency/texture would not be without a good thick layer of sauce. Same goes for too much sauce, it’s a fine balance. The below ratios would give, what we deem, to be the best pasta, to taste, to sauce, to consistency ratio we’ve ever had.
This is a three cheese Mac & Cheese with Cheddar, Red Leicester and Gruyère cheese, cut through with Dijon Mustard, Coarsely Chopped Sun-dried Tomatoes and finished off with a fresh rosemary, cheese and panko crumb. It’s truly sublime.
Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Mac & Cheese
- 1 Large / 2 Medium Casserole Dishes
- 2 Large Saucepans
- Spatula / Wooden Spoon
- 50 g Plain flour
- 50 g Unsalted butter
- 500 ml Full fat milk grahams gold top with cream is the best
- 8 Sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 2 Level tsp Dijon Mustard
- 100 g Mild Cheddar, grates
- 100 g Red Leicester, grated
- 100 g Gruyere, grated
- 400 g Uncooked Cavatappi Pasta any tubular pasta works here
- 1 Large Handful Panko Breadcrumbs
- 2 Large Sprigs Fresh rosemary, stalks removed and finely chopped
- Boil a kettle full of water
- Put a grill on a medium high heat, leave the door slightly ajar.
- Measure out all of your ingredients before hand, chop your Rosemary, grate your cheese, weigh your flour etc..
- Start by making a Roux. Put a large saucepan on a medium heat.
- Add the butter and melt down until all liquid.
- Add the flour, and using a whisk combine well. Let it cook for one minute.
- Add the milk in roughly 4 parts. To the butter and flour mix and 1/4 of the milk and whisk until combined. It will turn into a thick lump here. Add the second 1/4 of milk and whisk until combined. Make sure it's smooth, it will still be really thick here. Add the third 1/4 of milk and whisk once again. It will start to get looser, but not quite there yet. Add the final 1/4 and whisk well.
- Once all the milk has been added, let the white sauce come to a simmer and let it cook out for a few minutues. Make sure the ehat is not too high, and that you a stirring it very often - otherwise the sauce will begin to "catch" on the bottom of the pan and cuase lumps.Patience is key here.
- Once it has simmered for a few minutes and the floury taste has been cooked out, add the mustard stir.
- Now add 3/4 of all the cheese into the white sauce. Mix until it has melted.
- Add the chopped sundried tomatoes and mix. Now taste for seasoning. It should be well balanced if you've added the right amount of cheese. If not, and a dash of salt to taste and some pepper. The suce will be far to thcik ight now, but don't worry - we will losen with pasta water soon.
- Get a pan on a very high heat, add the kettle water and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add a big teaspoon of salt and stir.
- Add the pasta into the water and let it come back to the boil. Once boiling, stir to avoid sticking together. Now leave it and let it cook for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, take a piece out and taste. If al dente, remove the pan from the heat and drain the pasta but catch the pasta water in a jug - this will loosen the sauce to a more pourable consistency.
- Add about 50ml of pasta water to the cheese sauce and stir to combine - check the consistency. If it's still too thick add the pasta water at 50ml intervals until you get the desired consistency. DShould be between 100ml and 150ml.
- Get your casserole dish(es)
- Grab a big mixing bowl and pour about a ladle amount of sauce in the bottom. Add half the pasta and pour half the sauce over. Add the remaining half of pasta and pour over the rest of the sauce. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix thoroughly.
- Fill the casserole dish to the brim with the gorgeous Mac & Cheese
- Mix the reserved cheese you kept from making the cheese sauce and mix it with the breadcrumbs and the rosemary. Add a teaspoon of oil and mix well together.
- Scatter the crumb over the top of the mac and cheese filled casserole dishes
- Place the casserole dish under a hot grill for anywhere between 7-10 minutes. Make sure the top of the mac and cheese is roughly 5 inches away from the grill itself so it doesn't burn easily. Keep an eye on the crumb, as timing may vary with grills. Take it out with it looks golden and has some dark crispy bits.
- Serve right away when piping hot in warm bowls. Top with fresh chopped sundried tomato, a drizzle of lemon juice and a little hot sauce if you're into that. Enjoy!