Our expert cheesemonger and quality manager Jazz Reeves is based in our Cotswolds cheeserooms. Tasting cheese is part of her daily role and it’s fair to say she’s passionate about anything cheese related. We tasked Jazz with creating the ultimate ‘Cheesemongers’ Mac & Cheese’ recipe and she said the result was the best Mac & Cheese she’d ever eaten! Read on to follow Jazz’ recipe for this deliciously comforting dish…
For most (myself included), Mac ‘n’ Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Tasty tubes of pasta enrobed in a blanket of silky-smooth cheese sauce, what’s not to love?
When approaching a cheese sauce, I like to take one cheese to really focus on. I chose Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher for this dish - the smooth texture and smoked flavour of the cheese adds a gentle depth of flavour to the sauce, which is then balanced by the sweet leeks and acidic punch from the (optional) hot sauce.
Alongside my focus cheese, I had a “cheesemonger's fridge raid” which involved grabbing the bits of cheese I had in the fridge... This ended up being a mixture of crumbly/territorial cheeses which added a nice lactic hit to the sauce.
I topped the mac ‘n’ cheese with a blanket of Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher, for that added smokey hit!
On a cold winter's night or a warm summer's eve, this is guaranteed to bring comfort - grab a spoon and dig in!
- 500g Macaroni (or another pasta of your choice)
- 500ml Milk (whole preferably)
- 50g Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Mustard Powder
- 1 Clove Garlic (minced)
- 1 Leek (sliced thinly into half-moons)
- Salt (season to taste)
- Pinch of White Pepper
- CHEESE – around 500g in total, I would suggest including one focus cheese (I chose 250g Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher). Other cheeses included: Appleby’s Cheshire, Gorwydd Caerphilly, Westcombe Cheddar and Sparkenhoe Red Leicester.
- Optional (but delicious) – a dash of a vinegar-based hot sauce.
- Grate your cheese (Top Tip: your cheese will melt into the sauce better if grated) – pop to one side in a bowl. (If baking, now’s the time to pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C).
- Over a medium heat, melt your butter.
- Once melted (but not browned), add your leeks into the pan with a pinch of salt. Stir until coated in the butter and pop a lid on for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to low.
- Once the leeks are soft, turn the heat back up to medium and add in your 2 tablespoons of flour, to create a roux. You want to cook this out for a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.
- Stir in your 1 teaspoon of mustard powder and clove of garlic.
- Slowly stream in your milk, whilst constantly stirring the sauce. You want your roux to absorb the milk as you add it. (Adding the milk too fast will cause the sauce to split and become lumpy – and no one wants a lumpy mac ‘n’ cheese!).
- Get a large pan of salty water on to boil. Add your pasta and cook to package instructions (minus around 2 mins if baking). Drain and pop to one side.
- You should now have a smooth bechamel! Gradually add your grated cheese into the sauce, stirring as you go to combine. Stir until melted, and smooth.
- Taste your sauce – check the seasoning. The cheeses will help with the salt level, but check if it needs any salt, or white pepper. This is when I add a few splashes of hot sauce for an acidic balance – but this is totally optional.
- Once happy with the flavour, combine your sauce and pasta. OPTIONAL (but delicious), pop in a baking dish and grate over more of your focus cheese (so for this recipe Smoked Lincolnshire Poacher) and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!