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Mac and Cheese

May 26, 2022

Scooping a spoonful of Mac and Cheese

Ultra-creamy, cheesy and satisfying, there’s no finer comfort food than mac and cheese.

What is mac and cheese?

Well, it’s essentially exactly what it says on the tin: macaroni pasta mixed with cheese. Yet it’s done in a way that is seriously, seriously delicious.

Referred to as macaroni cheese in the UK, this filling and hearty cheat-day favourite is an iconic dish that has been enjoyed across the world for generations and generations.

In fact, some argue that it can be traced back to cookbooks from as early as the 17th century.

Now most associated with American cuisine, it’s a popular easy dinner and side plate that’s easy to whip up with minimal ingredients and hassle.

Even if your fridge is practically bare, you can still create a gloriously decadent vat of mac and cheese as long as you have pasta, cheese and milk.

Ideally, we also like to add a dash of cream to make it extra thick and indulgent, plus some garlic and onions for added flavour, too.

Give it a go next time you feel like treating yourself to a cosy and soul-soothing dinner that goes perfectly with a classic movie.

 

Key ingredients  

As mentioned above, the basis of mac and cheese is everyone’s favourite Italian staple.

In theory, you can use any kind of pasta, but there is something about the shape of macaroni that works extra well with this family-style recipe.

Our chef's top choice for mac and cheese is always De Cecco Chifferi Rigati. Narrow tubes that are bent in shape, its unique design means that it traps a little bit of your delicious cheesy sauce inside every piece. An Italian family company that has been making pasta since 1886, there’s no one better to trust with this essential ingredient than De Cecco.

Your choice of dairy products is just as crucial. It’s best to prepare your sauce with quality full fat milk like the one from French dairy specialist Paysan Breton, thick cream like Paysan Breton Cream 35% and, perhaps most importantly, a generous helping of your favourite cheeses.

We find that combining nutty Paysan Breton Emmental Cheese and strong cheddar cheese creates the most incredible mac and cheese in existence, but you can also mix it up and add other variations such as mozzarella, gouda, smoked gouda, swiss, monterey jack, gruyere or fontina cheese.

 

Top tips from our chef

  • Cook your pasta for less time - Macaroni cheese gets its wonderful crispy topping from being baked in the oven. So, when you’re cooking your pasta, make sure you boil it for less time than you normally would (four to five minutes should be plenty long enough). Your pasta tubes should be mixed in when they’re barely al dente (only slightly soft), because they will continue to cook when baking. This way you avoid over cooking and making your tubes too soft and mushy.

  • Use ingredients at room temperature - Cold liquids generally take longer to thicken than warmer ones, so let your milk and cream sit for a while and adjust to room temperature before you start cooking. It’s also a good idea to mix in your milk very slowly to ensure you avoid creating any lumps.

  • Grate your own cheese - Finally, although it might be tempting to save yourself some hassle and buy ready grated cheese, this really isn’t the best option for your mac and cheese. Bags of pre-grated cheese usually contain a starchy substance that keeps the cheese from clumping, and this stops it from melting into your lovely sauce as well as it should.
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