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Manchego Mac and Cheese

June 10, 2021

Manchego Mac and Cheese

We don’t know about you, but we find few things in life more comforting than a piping-hot bowl of luxuriously creamy, incredibly cheesy and super satisfying mac and cheese. Quick and easy to make, it’s perfect for cosy nights in with a movie.

However, while the recipe for mac and cheese is relatively straightforward, using quality ingredients is absolutely essential and there’s definitely a certain knack to the methods involved.

You can’t just use any old block of cheese or pot of cream and expect fabulous results (whatever you do, don’t dream of reaching for a low-fat option), so we’ve decided to share our chef’s top tips and ingredient suggestions for creating the best Manchego mac and cheese you’ve ever had.

What is the best cheese to use in mac and cheese?

Cheese: a versatile, creative and much-loved food group that comes in all kinds of different, and equally exciting, varieties.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we love every type of cheese, but when it comes to mac and cheese, some produce a perfectly rich and creamy sauce, and some result in a sauce that’s just too watery, flavourless and bland. To avoid the tragic disappointment of the latter, many chefs favour using strong cheeses like sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, Muenster, Pecorino, Fontina, Havarti, Monterey Jack or even Brie (just remember to remove the rind).

However, our chef swears by Olmeda Manchego Cheese, a sheep’s cheese sourced from the La Mancha region of central Spain. This semi-hard cheese contains subtle notes of fruits and herbs, and it’s easily recognisable due to the distinct zigzag pattern on the rind.

Furthermore, many people don’t realise that a great mac and cheese should include a mix of multiple cheeses (if you’re going to treat yourself you may as well do it properly, right?), and we find that a soft, light and mildly flavoured Mozzarella is the perfect partner for a bold Manchego.

Key ingredients

Whilst your choice of cheese dictates a lot about how your mac and cheese will turn out, it’s just as important to select the rest of your ingredients carefully.

For our chef, Peysan Breton Cooking Cream is always the best dairy option for making cheese sauce. Produced in France by multiple dairy farms across the Brittany and Pays de la Loir regions, it’s a super versatile product that’s perfect for whipping, baking and incorporating into a whole range of recipes.

Finally, a slightly rich dish like this needs a bit of spice, so we always add a pinch of Olmeda Smoked Paprika to add a subtle firy kick that isn’t too over powering. Sourced from the Caceres region of Spain, it has a pleasantly sweet, mild and distinctly smokey flavour, and we recommend adjusting the amount you add to suit your own taste.

Finally, our chef always opts for De Cecco dried pasta to give the mac and cheese an authentic, traditional Italian feel. Family business De Cecco has been creating expertly made pasta since 1886, and we find that chifferi or macaroni pasta shapes work best with this classic dish.

Can I reheat mac and cheese?

Absolutely, if there’s just one or two of you then this recipe can easily cover for you for a few meals.

To reheat in the oven, just put it in a baking dish, add a splash of milk, cover with a lid or foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Or for microwaves, just add some milk, cover and cook slowly on 50 percent power, and in 45 to 60 second bursts, until it’s steaming hot.

Top tips from our chef

Remember to salt your water before cooking the pasta – this first step is vital to a great mac and cheese!

On this note, it’s also advisable to slightly undercook your pasta by just a minute or so as this will avoid it getting too overdone or mushy during the baking stage.

Finally, only reheat as much of your leftovers as you need. The more times you reheat it, the more you risk making your fabulous culinary creation less appealing.

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