This post is part of “The Art of Cheese”, a partnership between Honest Cooking and Castello Cheese.
A superb recipe for mac and cheese that is comforting and a little bit fancy – because when a stellar ingredients like Castello’s aged havarti, cauliflower, and a crunchy pangrattato feature, it really is a work of art.
By Pepper Passport
Oh macaroni and cheese, how do we love thee? The answer? So freaking much. Particularly when the recipe for macaroni and cheese is taken to an elite level via the addition of ridiculously good cheese, fabulous flavors and a few eclectic and excellent additions.
First up, you have got to use the good stuff. And this recipe calls for aged havarti which is a semi soft cow’s milk cheese that hails from Denmark by Castello. You can devour it alone (and rather easily too) but as it’s rather buttery it melts into the béchamel sauce like a dream. It also holds a slightly nutty taste – which brings us on to the inclusion of nutmeg and other selected flavours.
You’ll see there’s mustard in the béchamel too – it’s an old trick but in this instance by using hot English mustard it lends a spiced kick, which helps to break the creaminess of the dish. It also is excellent for cleaning out the sinuses.
While this dish wouldn’t be billed as #cleaneating, we’ve put in cauliflower and not just because it’s really good for you. The cauliflower breaks the density of the pasta, and it’s commonly accepted that cauliflower and cheese makes for one kick arse combination.
To be fancy, and a work of art, macaroni and cheese must have a marvellous topping, and this one is rather special. Instead of grating just a little parmesan over the top before grilling (so standard), we’ve done a pangrattato like topping. The sourdough crumbs and pepita seeds give crunch and texture, while the inclusion of lemon rind and fresh herbs, really bolster and brighten the dish up.
Point made. Macaroni and cheese, when made well equals one ‘so fancy’ and cheesy work of art.
- 50 Grams (1.7 ounces) BUTTER, CHOPPED
- ⅓ CUP PLAIN FLOUR
- 2 CUPS WARMED FULL CREAM MILK
- 130 Grams (4.5 ounces) COSTELLO AGED HAVARTI CHEESE, CRUMBLED
- 1 TSP NUTMEG
- 1.5 TBSP HOT ENGLISH MUSTARD
- 200 Grams (7 ounces) DRIED MACARONI
- 400 Grams (14 ounces) CAULIFLOWER, WASHED AND IN SMALL FLORETS
- 3 THICK SLICES DAY OLD SOURDOUGH TORN INTO BREAD CRUMBS
- 2 TBSP PEPITAS
- ½ CUP PARMESAN CHEESE, GRATED
- GOOD PINCH CHILLI FLAKES
- 2 TBSP MIXED FRESH HERBS, CHOPPED
- ZEST OF 1 LEMON
- SALT AND PEPPER
- Preheat your oven grill or broiler to high heat.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add flour and stir until sandy-coloured (2-4 minutes). Gradually whisk in milk and stir until mixture is thick and comes to the boil (2-4 minutes). Stir in cheese, nutmeg and mustard, season to taste and keep warm.
- Next cook macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (5-6 minutes), adding cauliflower after 2 minutes. Drain and return cauliflower and macaroni to pan, stir in cheese sauce, season to taste, pour into a large baking dish, scatter with remaining cheese.
- Next make the pangrattato in a bowl by combining the sourdough bread crumbs, herbs, chili flakes, parmesan cheese, pepitas, lemon zest and a good slug of olive oil. You want the mixture to be ‘wet’ but not soaked. Season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter the pangrattao over the pasta, then transfer to the oven and grill until golden and bubbly for 4 -5 minutes. Serve with salad. Or eat alone. So fancy.