Mac & Cheese, Serious Winter Food
From the Surf Cafe Living Cookbook Photos by Mike Searle
Wind rain, followed by chilly days, this time of year it’s perfectly acceptable to turn to comfort food – it’s a winter time necessity. And you can’t get a better example of proper winter food than Mac & Cheese. Here’s Myles’ tried and tested formula which we’ve take from the Surf Cafe Living Cookbook, enjoy!
A big favourite amongst my friends, perfect on a cold winter’s night. There’s a lot going on here so we’ll break it up into four parts.
Boil the macaroni and butternut squash
Make a bacon and onion base
Make a Béchamel cheese sauce
Put it all together and bake it off
Serves 6 to 8
500g (5¼ cups) macaroni pasta
1 medium butternut squash
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
200g (8oz) smoked bacon lardons
75g (2.5oz) air dried chorizo sausage, sliced into chunks
80g (½ cup) sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Fresh sage brushed with oil
Splash olive oil
Salt and pepper
100g (½ cup) butter
80g (⅔ cup) flour
400ml (1¾ cups) milk
100ml (½ cup) white wine
100ml (½ cup) cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
200g (¾ cup) grated vintage cheddar cheese
Pinch white pepper
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
200g (¾ cup) grated cheddar cheese
1 tomato, sliced
To start preheat the oven to 200C/395F.
Bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil and cook off the macaroni. Drain and rinse with water so it won’t go starchy while you cook everything else.
Peel and chop the butternut to bite-size pieces and either roast, steam or boil the squash until soft and tender. Put to one side.
Grab a pan, add a splash of olive oil and fry off the onions, garlic and bacon. Later add the chorizo, smoked paprika and sundried tomatoes. Add some cracked black pepper. Once cooked, set side and sprinkle with oregano or sage.
In a separate, smaller pot on a low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir hard with a wooden spoon to form a thick paste (also known as a roux). Add a splash of milk and stir, another splash of milk and stir. Change the wooden spoon to a whisk and slowly add all the milk, then the cream, continuously whisking up a nice smooth sauce. Keep stirring on a low heat.
Add in the wine, cheese, mustard, white pepper and a pinch of salt. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted through. If the sauce is getting too thick, add a splash of cold milk. The consistency should be like thick cream. If it’s too thick it will make the dish way too stodgy.
Now grab a roasting dish; rub the inside with a clove of garlic and then smear on a layer of butter.
Pour in the macaroni and cooked butternut. Mix in the onion and bacon bits and stir together for an even mix of ingredients.
Pour on the cheesy, tangy sauce and spread over the rest of the ingredients. Cover the dish with the grated cheddar and top with thin slices of tomato.
Sprinkle with woody green herbs and pepper.
Bake for 25 minutes at 200C/395F.
Serve hot with a simple green salad and a Dijon mustard dressing.
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