Spenwood Mac & Cheese

Ultimate. Comfort. Food. This is our macaroni and cheese in it’s simplest form, but we’ve added our favourite variations at the end if you want some extras. Serve with steamed tenderstem broccoli or a spinach, rocket and tomato salad.

Ingredients:
200g macaroni pasta
40g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
salt + pepper, to taste
600ml whole milk, warmed
1 x garlic clove, crushed
150g Spenwood cheese
100g your favourite mature cheddar cheese
1 tsp english mustard
finely grated nutmeg, to taste (optional)
crispy onions (optional, but necessary!)

Method:
Start by adding the pasta to a large pot of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, and cook for a couple of minutes less than stated on the instructions on the packet. Drain, and turn into an oven proof dish.

The sauce:
Put the butter into a pot over medium heat, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring well after each addition. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat, add the mustard and nutmeg (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and three quarters of the cheeses (reserving the rest for the topping), and stir until the cheese has melted.

The assembly:
Pour the 2/3 of the sauce into the macaroni-filled dish and fork through the pasta until it is all incorporated. Add the rest of the sauce and scatter the last of the cheese and panko crumbs (if using) on top.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the top is golden.

Just before serving, garnish each portion with a generous sprinkle of crispy onions.

Variations.

Bacon & basil: Before making your sauce, grill 5 rashers of bacon until they are crispy. Once cooled, chop and stir into your sauce mix with a handful of torn basil just before pouring it into the pasta dish. Top with the remaining cheese as above and bake in the oven.

Spinach & basil pesto: Put 60g of fresh spinach in a colander and pour over a full kettle of boiling water. Squeeze out as much water as possible, set aside. Blend 30g breadcrumbs with 30g Spenwood, a handful of fresh basil leaves, 1tbsp olive oil, juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 crushed garlic clove. Stir the spinach into the pasta & sauce once in the baking dish, then top with your breadcrumb mixture. Top with reserved cheese and bake as above. You can go even further with the basil pesto and swirl a table spoon of it through your macaroni sauce mixture before topping with the cheese and breadcrumbs.

Chilli & chorizo w. mozarella: Before making your sauce, fry up slices of chorizo with fresh red sliced chilli. Stir this into the baking dish along with your macaroni-sauce mixture, plus 100g of torn mozarella and a handful of fresh basil before topping with reserved Spenwood cheese. Bake as above.

Mac and Cauliflower cheese, w. tomato & thyme: Add 300g of cauliflower florets into your pan of macaroni while it is on the boil, and once drained, put them all into the baking dish as above. Add a handful of chopped spring onions and stir in with the sauce. Top with the reserved cheese as above and mix together a generous handful of fresh thyme with panko crumbs before sprinking over the cheese. Layer thick slices of 2 large tomatoes on top before putting in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

Three cheese, with Spenwood, Cheddar & Barkham Blue: Make the recipe as above, and stir chunks of 60g Barkham Blue cheese through the macaroni once the sauce has been added. Bake as above.