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Glam Mac and Cheese

  • DifficultyMedium
340g macaroni
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
80g pancetta, diced
1 small handful of fresh thyme leaves
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
100g breadcrumbs
1 handful of chopped fresh parsley

For the cheese sauce

40g butter
40g plain flour
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tsp mustard powder

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6.

2. Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water. It needs to be cooked to just under what you would normally do as the pasta will be cooked again in the oven. Drain, return to the pan and set aside.

3. Fry the pancetta in a medium frying pan over a gentle heat until it just starts to brown and crisp up, then add the thyme leaves and spring onions and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add its contents to the pasta.

For the sauce:

1. Put the butter, flour, nutmeg and mustard in a small pan set over a medium heat and cook until the butter has melted. Mix the milk and cream together in a jug and add a little bit to the flour and butter in the pan, stirring well.

2. Keep adding the milk mixture, bit by bit, stirring well each time. This will prevent the sauce from going lumpy. The temptation is to put all the milk in at once only to find you are left with clumps of flour floating on the surface. Should this happen, take the pan off the heat and whisk it like crazy. This normally does the trick and eliminates the lumps!

3. Make sure you get the spoon into the 'corners' of the pan as stray mounds of flour often lurk there. Once the sauce has fully come together, turn up the heat and boil for a minute or two. The sauce will thicken considerably, then remove the pan from the heat.

4. Add two-thirds of both of the cheeses to the sauce while it is still hot and combine well. It may be a bit lumpy but that is fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add to the pasta mix.

5. Stir everything together and spoon into a shallow casserole dish or 4 individual large ramekins.

6. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese and the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and the topping goes crumbly and brown. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve while hot.

Recipe courtesy of Lorraine Pascale, Baking Made Easy HarperCollins, 2012 (£20)

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