Monday, March 25, 2013

Meat Free Monday / Posh Mac & Cheese

Already a pattern is beginning to become apparent with my meat free meals, I prefer easy to prepare, economical and comforting dishes (which coincidently are the same three words I'd probably use to describe my lifestyle, but anyway). Dishes that you enjoy making and sharing. This week it is the ultimate comfort food dish, and my favourite macaroni cheese recipe.

I adapted this from a Jamie Oliver recipe I cut out from the Sunday Times Style magazine yonks ago. I left out the bacon, and to be honest, for a culchie like me the only 'posh' element of this dish was the addition of the white wine and the fresh herbs. It was delicious nonetheless, though I don't think the wine made much of a difference.

& A tip - if you're not a white wine drinker and probably won't finish the bottle after using it for this recipe, freeze the remainder of the wine in an ice cube bag or tray. You can then use this leftover wine straight from the freezer in any future recipes that require the addition of white wine, such as a risotto.

I have put into brackets the elements I left out, I've never had breadcrumbs in a macaroni cheese and I think its fruitless to convince me otherwise. We only eat soda bread in my house (#culchieproblems), and the healthy five grain bread my mum gets probably wasn't what Jamie had in mind for this carbfest. I like mine with a crunchy golden crust on top, with piles of carby, creamy goodness nestled comfortably underneath.

50g butter
1 leek, or 3 stalks celery (or BOTH), cleaned & finely sliced
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
4 tbsp flour
100ml dry white wine
400ml milk
(250ml double cream)
100g cheddar
50g vegetarian parmesan
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
(2-3 handfuls breadcrumbs)

- Preheat oven to 180C. Cook macaroni pasta in boiling salted water according to time on packet, usually 10-12 minutes. Drain and set to one side.

- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks/celery and thyme leaves. Turn down the heat, put a lid on and leave to soften for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don't stick.

- Add flour and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly for a couple of minutes, until it forms a roux. Then gradually add the wine, beating with a whisk, to form a thick paste. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then beat in the milk (and cream), and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Mix in the cheeses and cayenne, season to taste and stir until everything has melted and the sauce is smooth.

- Combine the sauce and cooked pasta. Then tip into an ovenproof dish. (Sprinkle with breadcrumbs). Grate cheese over the top. Put in the oven for 25 minutes, or until top is golden and the dish is bubbling at the edges.

- Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a salad, or greens (see below).

- Should serve 6 people, but usually 4-5 if you like second helpings as much as I do. Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and is highly addictive!

As this is such a wickedly stodgy dish I served it with some green veg on the side. I wilted some spinach with garlic, olive oil and nutmeg in the pan, some lightly stir-fried mangetout peas and some sliced bell peppers. Any green vegetables you have knocking about in the fridge should be fine.

Get involved in the #meatfreemonday campaign!

1 comment:

  1. Carby, creamy goodness is really the only way to do it. This looks amazing!