What’s your favourite part of Mac and cheese? For me, a slightly burnt, crispy, extra cheesy top when it pops out of the oven is heaven. So I had an idea: why not make a Mac and cheese that has this sort of texture all the way through? The recipe is actually very similar to the way my grandmother used to make it. It’s not at all like the over-rich, creamy, liquid dish you’ll get from a tin, or from a restaurant – I find that a couple of mouthfuls of this “white lava” can be far too sickly. On the other hand, because of the layering and grilling process used here, the cheese adheres to the pasta like iron filings to a magnet and it’s very addictive. From a culinary point of view, this is about as easy as it gets, but it’s not exactly healthy. It’s perfect for the odd comfort food fix and I will say from experience that it is a superb hangover cure – served cold. Incidentally, you may think that there’s far too much mustard power in this, but bear with me – it really does turbo charge the sharpness of the cheese.
Recipe and instructions below…
- 400G Dried Macaroni
- 100G Proscuitto
- 100G Proper Parmesan Reggiano
- 200G Gruyere
- 300G Very strong / mature cheddar
- 1 Table Spoon Mustard powder
- 1 Teaspoon Onion salt (or Aromat will do)
- ½ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 50G Butter (slightly salted)
- 300ml Double cream
- ½ Teaspoon White pepper
- Good olive oil (I only use Spanish)
Set the pasta to boil in a pan with some olive oil but no salt (I usually add salt to pasta, but the cheese and proscuitto are already very salty).
Meanwhile, grate all of the cheese and mix in the mustard powder, onion salt, white pepper and nutmeg.
Shred the proscuitto into small pieces.
Once the pasta has just gone beyond an al dente state, strain into a colander and add a knob of butter. Don’t pass any hot water through the pasta as this will remove starch.
Take a large, wide baking dish and coat with olive oil. Then put down a inch think layer of the pasta into the dish and sprinkle with a third of the cheese mix. Sprinkle with a third of the proscuitto. Place a couple of knobs of butter on top and drizzle with a little olive oil and a third of the double cream.
Set under a hot grill until the top of the cheese is beginning to brown.
Repeat the layering as described above and grill again.
For the last layer, instead of grilling the dish, stick it in the oven on a medium heat (Gas 5 or so) and bake for about 30 minutes.
Serve with a sharp, vinegar influenced salad.
SERVES 4 (Or 3 Scots)
Note: There’s no garlic in this recipe. I put garlic in just about every pasta dish I make – except this one. It is unbelievable how much of the cheesy taste is lost by adding it.
I played too, with slightly different ingredients… thanks WeeRascal!