Nick: Nick’s mother’s ham and pea mac ‘n’ cheese

DSC_1235OK so this isn’t actually Nick’s mother’s recipe (it’s an adapted mac ‘n’ cheese recipe from the Pitt Cue Co Cookbook – and it’s most delicious). Also there isn’t any ham in the recipe. But there is bacon, which is a superior form of ham. There are however peas. Beautiful plumptious (I know that’s not a word – but it should be) peas… And lots and lots of cheese.

Ingredients:

– 500g dried elbow macaroni

– 200g cooked bacon cut into chunks (I used some lovely free range bacon from my local butcher )

– 100g breadcrumbs

–  50g grated cheddar

DSC_1199– 600ml milk (I used organic milk from Berkeley Farm Dairy – see here – they treat their cows nicely and are very environmentally conscious)

– 60g butter

– 2 shallots minced

– 2 garlic cloves minced

– 2 sprigs of thyme

– 60g plain flour

– 125g stilton or stichelton – grated

– 125g cheddar – grated (I used Abel and Cole mature cheddar – which is made by the Alvis Brothers – see here)

– 125g smoked cheese

– half a cup frozen peas

– 1 tsp salt

– half tsp white pepper

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1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain then refresh in cold water, the drain again. Put into a large bowl and add the bacon.

DSC_12112. Make the cheese sauce by putting the milk into the a medium pan and bring it to a foamy boil. Reduce the heat to low and keep the milk warm.

3. In another pan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme leaves and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions and garlic are just caramelizing and soft.

DSC_12034. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook until a pale roux has formed. Then, whisking steadily ladle the hot milk into the roux, a cupful at a time, completely incorporating each amount before adding the next. After all the milk has been added, continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and bubbles gently (about 2 minutes).

5. Add the stilton, cheddar and smoked cheese, salt and pepper and stir until completely melted. Stir in the peas.

6. Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

7. Stir three quarters of the cheese sauce into the cooked pasta and bacon. Layer the pasta into a large ovenproof dish and spread the rest of the cheese sauce over the top. Lightly toast the breadcrumbs and mix with the cheddar. Spread it evenly over the top of the cheese sauce layer.

8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve with a splash of smoked chipotle sauce.

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