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Macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese

Serves pea 5-6 people Clock icon 35 minutes
A real mac and cheese needs not one but two cheeses, so we haven't scrimped here - the cheddar adds a tangy creaminess where the salty Parmesan adds seasoning and a depth of cheesy flavour. Save yourself from the pains of a labour intensive bechamel sauce and let the starchy cooking water do it's thing - adding a little to the cheese and pasta creates a wonderful sauce which sticks to the individual macaroni. Clever eh? Now get cooking!

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Here's how you do it

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cook the pasta for a few minutes shorter than the packet instructs (the macaroni will continue to cook in the oven).

  2. While the pasta cooks, pick the thyme leaves and remove the stalks. Drain the pasta and reserving the cooking water.

  3. In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pasta melt the butter. Add thyme and move around the pan for 1 minute then pour in the drained pasta with 150ml of the cooking water.

  4. Add most of the grated cheeses (leaving a few tbsp of each for topping), mustard and plenty of salt and pepper and stir vigorously until all the cheese melts - the sauce should be thick and cheesy, not claggy so add more pasta water if you need to loosen it up a little.

  5. Tip the pasta into an baking dish, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs, the reserved cheese and a little more salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.

  6. Cook in the oven 15 minutes until the pasta sauce bubbles and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Leave to stand for a few minutes before digging in.

Chef's tip: Try adding adding some leftover chopped bacon to the breadcrumbs before baking for a dreamy carnivore's smokey meat-topped mac!

Ingredients

  • 500g macaroni
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 300g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 70g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 50g salted butter

From the Larder

  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • A handful of breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp olive oil