Quintessential mac 'n' cheese

  • Preparation Time25 mins
  • Cooking Time35 mins
  • Serves8
  • DifficultyEasy

For the pasta

5 cloves chopped garlic, plus 3 cloves whole garlic
3 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika, plus more to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 L water, boiling
450g dry elbow macaroni
1 tsp dry mustard
Olive oil to taste

For the cheese sauce

For the pasta:
1) Prepare the pasta stock by adding the garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, paprika and smoked paprika to the water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

2) Remove from the heat, strain the stock and return the liquid to the pan. Bring to the boil and add the macaroni, Cook until al dente then strain the pasta and toss with dry mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

For the cheese sauce:
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grate the cheddar cheeses together and the Asiago and Pecorino together, keeping them separate. Crumble the Gorgonzola cheese.

2) Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the plain flour through a fine-mesh sieve, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat and add the cream and creme fraiche, then add the dry mustard, Dijon mustard, paprika, smoked paprika, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the Gorgonzola and cheddar cheeses to the sauce, then return the pan to a low heat.

3) Add the pasta and the egg to the cheese sauce, and combine well. Top with the grated Asiago and Pecorino mix. Put the mixture in individual heatproof dishes and bake until bubbly golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

For the pesto:
1) Blend the olive oil, lemon zest, basil, pine nuts, feta, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor to make basil pesto. Spread on the toasties.

For the cream sauce:
1) In a small saucepan, combine the double cream, creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, paprika, salt and pepper.

2) Cook on a medium heat until the flavours meld and the sauce reduces. Spread on the toasties.

To serve:

1) Cut the bread diagonally into 8 thick slices. Season with salt, pepper and butter. Put in oven to toast.

2) Remove the toasties and drizzle with basil pesto and cream sauce. Serve immediately with the macaroni cheese.

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