Classic macaroni and cheese is comfort food at its best. It's all about keeping it simple but using the best cheese you can get your hands on. We've used a mix of vintage cheddar with plenty of bite, a nutty Gruyère and a generous whack of parmesan. Smoky speck or bacon adds depth of flavour and complexity. A simple salad dressed with a piquant vinaigrette is an ideal side.
- 400 gm dried macaroni
- 70 ml olive oil
- 100 gm rindless bacon or speck, cut into lardons
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 120 ml dry white wine
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp thyme, plus extra to serve
- 600 ml pouring cream
- 200 gm vintage cheddar, coarsely grated
- 200 gm Gruyère, coarsely grated
- 100 gm crème fraîche
- 100 gm parmesan, finely grated
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 80 gm coarse fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
- Finely grated rind of ½ lemon, plus extra to serve
- 1Preheat oven to 180C. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water until not quite al dente (6-7 minutes). Drain, reserving 2 tbsp cooking water, and return both to pan.
- 2Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat, add bacon or speck and fry until crisp and fat renders (2-3 minutes). Add garlic, stir until fragrant, then deglaze pan with wine and simmer until reduced by half (2-3 minutes). Stir in mustard and thyme, then add mixture to pasta and stir to combine. Add cream, cheddar, Gruyère, crème fraîche, paprika and half the parmesan, season, mix well, then transfer to four individual 450ml baking dishes (or a large baking dish).
- 3Mix breadcrumbs, rind and remaining oil and parmesan in a bowl and season. Scatter crumbs over pasta and bake until filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown (15-20 minutes). Scatter with extra thyme and lemon rind, and serve hot.
Drink Suggestion: Amontillado or vin jaune Drink suggestion by Max Allen