Hayden Groves’ take on the much-loved comfort food classic
As a child, my mother was—and still is, I hasten to add—an excellent cook. I certainly feel that for the record I should attribute a large proportion of my success in the kitchen to her.
Food is about great moments in time and special memories. For me as a young boy, nothing summed this up more simply than a comforting macaroni cheese served at the family table. The golden, crisp armour protecting and hiding the macaroni, encased in a silky smooth cheese sauce. With each forkful, memories of a bad day at school would be put aside. My two girls now share my enthusiasm and also love this simplest of dishes.
It would only be fair to share my version of the classic with you, using mature cheddar, French comte and mozzarella. Yes, you read right. Although fairly bland, the addition of this Italian cheese really makes a textural difference to the sauce, almost a cartoon-style stretchiness. I hope you give it a go.
175g cheddar, grated
100g comte, grated
75g mozzarella, grated
1 tsp English mustard
1 egg yolk
50g plain flour
30g white breadcrumbs
Melt the butter in a thick based pan, add the flour and make a roux. Cook out over a low heat for 2 mins.
Gradually add the milk, stirring all the time to avoid lumps. This is a basic béchamel sauce. Leave over a very low heat to cook out for 10 mins.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the macaroni and cook following the manufacturer’s instructions. Drain and reserve a little of the cooking water.
Pass the sauce through a sieve into a clean pan and turn off the heat. Add English mustard and the cheeses (reserving half of the cheddar for the top). Beat in the egg yolk and season with white pepper and salt if required.
Mix the drained macaroni into the cheese sauce and combine well—you may require a splash of the reserved pasta water to just thin the sauce slightly if it isn’t coating well.
Pour into your serving dish, scatter over the breadcrumbs and reserved cheddar and place under a grill set to a medium heat, till a beautiful golden crust is formed.
Recipe: Hayden Groves