My version of Mac and Cheese has a very British slant and comes with a beefy surprise. It is also scaled back in size and makes for the perfect comfort food TV dinner for two!
Beefy Mac and Cheese.
Macaroni and cheese is often seen as a US comfort food classic. However, the first recorded recipe comes from a book called “The Experienced English Housekeeper” published in 1770.
There are also two versions in “Mrs Beetons Book of Household Management”.
It did kinda disappear from tables though and it formed no real part of my food childhood.
It seemed to have been replaced by Cauliflower Cheese as the cheesy comfort food side.
My version of this age-old recipe adds a base of ground beef very similar to my cottage pie filling.
To that end it is less saucy than some recipes, this allows the beefy filling and cheese to be perfectly balanced.
What Cheese to Use?
For me, the perfect cheese for this mac and cheese recipe is a mature cheddar cheese.
It is sharp and bold and melts beautifully to create the perfect mornay sauce.
It is the same combination that I use in my Welsh Rarebit recipe.
You could use something different but then you would need much more cheese to get a cheesy sauce.
That tends to result in a macaroni and cheese that is too sloppy for my tastes.
There are other Cheeses like Wensleydale or Caerphilly that you can use. They add a wonderful flavour but do not melt quite so well.
Should You Precook the Pasta?
Macaroni and Cheese is essentially a pasta bake or pasta casserole but also shares much in common with a baked Lasagna.
Now for lasagna, there is rarely a need to precook the pasta as it is baked for a long time in a wet sauce.
However in a pasta bake like this meatball pasta bake then I usually prefer to use almost completely cooked pasta.
My version of Mac and Cheese is almost a halfway house. It is not cooked for either as long or in as much sauce as a lasagna. It is also not as dry as a typical pasta bake.
As a result, I cook the pasta for half of the time it says on the packet. This results in pasta that still has the slightest of bites when the dish is cooked.
- 100 g Onion
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 175 g Ground Beef
- 50 g Carrot
- 50 g Celery
- 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 250 ml Beef Stock
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
- 450 ml Full Fat Milk
- 1 Whole Onion
- 4 Cloves
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 12 Black Pepper Corns
- 75 g Butter
- 50 g Plain Flour
- 100 g Mature Cheddar Cheese
- 200 g Pasta
- 20 g Bread Crumbs
- Bring a pan of water to boil and cook the pasta for half the time that it says on the pack, then drain.
- Finely dice the onion, carrot and celery, then finely slice the garlic.
- Cook the diced onion, carrot and celery in a frying pan over a medium high heat for 5 minutes with a splash of oil
- Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the pan and set aside.
- Turn the heat up to high, add the beef, season and fry for 5 minutes
- Return the vegetable mix from earlier and add the dried thyme, tomato puree and then pour in the beef stock.
- Reduce the heat to medium, cook until the volume of the liquid has reduced by three quarters.
- When reduced double check the seasoning.
- Remove from the heat and then add in the Worcestershire sauce.
- Whilst the beef mix is reducing peel the onion and stud with the 4 cloves.
- Add it to the milk, pepper corns and bay leaf.
- Slowly bring to the boil, when boiling point is reached remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile melt 50g of the butter butter over a medium heat and when melted stir in flour.
- Cook out the flour and butter mix for 3 minutes stirring continuously.
- Add a little of the boiled milk into the pan with the butter and flour and mix until the milk is combined.
- Repeat this process until all of the milk is incorporated and you have a rich and thick bechamel sauce that is lump free.
- Stir in the grated cheddar cheese until you have a beautiful silky cheese sauce and add it to your pasta.
- Add a layer of the beef in the bottom of your chosen cooking bowl., I used two 20cm oval bowls.
- Then add the pasta with cheese sauce.
- Finally melt the remaining butter in a pan and throw in the breadcrumbs.
- Toss for 2-3 minutes and then sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
- Bake in the over at 180°C or 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
I like to use elbow macaroni as the pasta in this recipe, feel free to play around but short pasta works better.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1300Total Fat: 71gSaturated Fat: 38gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 227mgSodium: 1236mgCarbohydrates: 111gFiber: 12gSugar: 12gProtein: 61g