This has to be my ultimate comfort food.
“Maman” This is my name for my Mum. She is the original Macdougall master chef but is far too modest to admit it. When I was growing up in the 1980’s Maman was all over the homemade prawn curry, and a delicious individual chocolate mousse that she would serve with the warning “These contain raw eggs so you eat them at your own risk” – everyone did. Whenever I’d ask for fish and chips Mum would magically transform half an empty egg box into a take away container and wrap it in newspaper “Ta-Da!, homemade fish ‘n’ chips with a twist!”
I LOVE the crispy bacon bits in Mums recipe but if you are a lover of the non meaty variety you can add some fresh spinach leaves and cherry tomatoes instead. The secret to cheesy deliciousness is to use the most mature cheddar you can find. Don’t stint when it comes to the cheese and bacon. I like to use lardons because they already come in wee cubes and are easy to pan fry. A pinch of mustard powder really lifts the white sauce.
I could happily eat this 365 days per year but I love it even more if I’m feeling in a slump or having a bad day. Maman is a great advocate of protein she likes to remind me that eggs, cheese, beans are the bees knees when it comes to a quick and easy lunch or supper dish.
Ingredients to serve 4
40g plain flour
250g grated mature cheddar
Pinch of dry mustard powder
200g bacon lardons or 200g fresh baby spinach for vegetarian option
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and set aside.
Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a good sized saucepan and add the flour and mustard powder. Cook for a few minutes and then gradually add the milk. Keep adding the milk a little at a time until the sauce is smooth and thickened.
Remove the sauce from the hob and add the grated cheese. Now fry off the bacon lardons until crispy. Drain them of any excess fat and add to the cheese sauce. Stir the cheese sauce and bacon bits into the drained macaroni.
Check the seasoning and pour the pasta into an ovenproof dish. Top with some cherry tomatoes and some extra grated cheese and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in oven 180c gas mark 4.
© Catriona Macdougall cookyourselfhappier.com, 2017
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