Monday, 4 August 2008

Making an old thing even better

I've been making macaroni and cheese for years and it is a real family favourite. The other day, I decided to "tweak" my recipe a bit, and was told by a reliable source that it was "the best macaroni and cheese ever". So here's the recipe!

The 21st Century Housewife's
New and Improved Macaroni Cheese
Serves 3 - 4
250 – 300 g dried penne
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
About 8 to 10 ounces milk
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, or to taste
2 handfuls of cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons half fat crème fraîche
¼ cup packaged marinated and grilled red and yellow peppers or mixed peppers in olive oil from a jar, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 handfuls of bread crumbs and 1 handful of cheddar cheese, mixed together in a small bowl

Cook the penne in boiling water as directed on the package.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and stir with a whisk. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes over low heat, stirring constantly. Add about a 4 ounces of the milk and whisk together. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken. Now, going very carefully, add the rest of the milk a bit at a time, stirring constantly, until a smooth, thick sauce is obtained. Add the mustard and stir. Now add the cheese and allow to melt, stirring constantly. You might want to switch to a wooden spoon at this point, instead of continuing to use the whisk.

Stir in the crème fraîche and check the consistency of the sauce. If it is too thick, add a bit of milk, but go carefully as you don’t want the sauce to be too thin. (If the worst happens and it does get too thin, try adding a bit more grated cheese.) When the desired consistency is reached, stir in the peas and the red and yellow peppers. Allow to heat together, stirring occasionally.

Drain the pasta when it is cooked and return to the pan. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to mix. Transfer to a casserole dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb and cheese mixture. Bake at about 350 F (or 170 C) for about 20 minutes, until the topping is brown.

Serve with a salad and/or crusty bread.

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