Guid Auld Mac & Cheese
The latest in our “How To Make” series from our Community Chef Iain is Guid Auld Mac & Cheese. Iain will take you through step by step how to make this tasty dish.
The guid auld Mac & Cheese is a family favourite and is very versatile that can be made as a quick meal or you can spend some time making a luxurious meal that can be made in a larger batch and portioned for a later date. A quick Mac & Cheese can be made with 5 ingredients and on the plate in 20-30 minutes.
The base for the sauce is a béchamel/white sauce. This is one of the most versatile techniques to master and opens up lots of different options for creating other dishes. To make a basic béchamel you need 3 ingredients, butter, flour, milk (could be expanded on to the technical level of this combination of ingredients). The ratio of these ingredients depends on the result you are looking for, but a good starting point is as follows:
50g Flour (plain but self-raising works)
The milk can be infused with flavours before making the sauce to give it real depth of flavour, the flavours infused depends on your preference of flavours or what dish you are making the sauce. The classic flavours to infuse are onion, cloves and bay leaves, this makes a massive difference to the end result. To infuse the milk simply put ½ onion quartered, 6 cloves,10 black peppercorns and 4 bay leaves (if possible try to get your hands on fresh bay leaves, dried ones are available but do not have the same fragrance) in the cold milk and gently heat (don’t boil!) to a simmer then remove from the heat and set aside.
To make the sauce
- Place the butter in a small pot on a low heat, large enough to hold all the milk with room for stirring
- Stain the warm milk through a sieve into a jug for ease of pouring when adding to the sauce
- When the butter has melted add the flour and stir together with a large enough spoon to get to the edges of the pot (a demonstration picture?) still on a low heat, when combined the butter and flour should come together come away from the side of the pot.
- This is now the point where temperature control is critical for a good result!
- Turn the heat to high and gently stir the butter and flour mixture, this is called a roux. When the pot is hot add ¼ of the milk and don’t stir for 10 seconds, then slowly incorporate the milk into the roux. It will really thicken up this is when to give a good stir ensuring that you get the edges of the pot.
- Now add next ¼ of the milk and start slowly stirring again, the sauce will thicken up again but not as much. Again when milk is incorporated give a good stir to remove any lumps.
- Add the rest of the milk slowly stirring at the same time, the sauce should be smooth at this point but too thin.
- Keep on a high heat stirring slowly all the time (ensuring getting to the edge of the pot), bring to the boil cook for 2 mins. The sauce should now thicken up and be nice and smooth.
This is now the base sauce made for your Mac & Cheese
Now for the cheese, again this can be plain cheddar or other cheeses like mozzarella, parmesan, gruyere or a mix of cheeses. I recommend using a strongly flavoured cheese so that you do not need to add as much to get a good flavour, the more cheese added to the béchamel sauce can change the texture making it a little grainy. This should be done to suit your taste……but probably will need more cheese than you think! When adding the cheese have on a low heat and stir continually so the cheese is melt and sauce is smooth. Do not let the sauce boil because the cheese will split. Another special addition to cheese sauce is mustard, I love mustard and like to use Dijon but use whatever you have and as much as you like, it really does enhance the flavour of the cheese. Seasoning is very important also so do taste and adjust to your taste.
Simply now cook your pasta, tube style pasta like macaroni or penne are good. Drain well when it is cooked then add the pasta to the sauce and gently fold to coast evenly. You need to judge how much or little pasta you put in according to how much sauce you have.
One last taste to check seasoning and then it is ready to enjoy…..or can put in a roasting dish sprinkled with a little more cheese and grilled to get a nice crispy topping.|