Clas­sic mac­a­roni and cheese is com­fort food at its best.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Restaurant Awards -

Ul­ti­mate mac and cheese

Clas­sic mac­a­roni and cheese is com­fort food at its best. It’s all about keep­ing it sim­ple but us­ing the best cheese you can get your hands on. We’ve used a mix of vin­tage ched­dar with plenty of bite, a nutty Gruyère and a gen­er­ous whack of parme­san. Smoky speck or ba­con adds depth of flavour and com­plex­ity. A sim­ple salad dressed with a pi­quant vinai­grette is an ideal side.

Prep time 20 mins, cook 35 mins

Serves 4 (pic­tured p109)

400 gm dried mac­a­roni

70 ml olive oil

100 gm rind­less ba­con or speck, cut into lar­dons 2 gar­lic cloves, finely chopped

120 ml dry white wine

2 tsp Di­jon mus­tard

2 tsp thyme, plus ex­tra to serve

600 ml pour­ing cream

200 gm vin­tage ched­dar, coarsely grated

200 gm Gruyère, coarsely grated

100 gm crème fraîche

100 gm parme­san, finely grated

1 tsp smoked pa­prika

80 gm coarse fresh sour­dough bread­crumbs Finely grated rind of ½ lemon, plus ex­tra to serve

1 Pre­heat oven to 180C. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of well-salted boil­ing wa­ter un­til not quite al dente (6-7 min­utes). Drain, re­serv­ing 2 tbsp cook­ing wa­ter, and re­turn both to pan.

2 Mean­while, heat 2 tbsp oil in a fry­ing pan over a medium-high heat, add ba­con or speck and fry un­til crisp and fat ren­ders (2-3 min­utes). Add gar­lic, stir un­til fra­grant, then deglaze pan with wine and sim­mer un­til re­duced by half (2-3 min­utes). Stir in mus­tard and thyme, then add mix­ture to pasta and stir to com­bine. Add cream, ched­dar, Gruyère, crème fraîche, pa­prika and half the parme­san, sea­son, mix well, then trans­fer to four in­di­vid­ual 450ml bak­ing dishes (or a large bak­ing dish).

3 Mix bread­crumbs, rind and re­main­ing oil and parme­san in a bowl and sea­son. Scat­ter crumbs over pasta and bake un­til fill­ing is bub­bling and the top is golden brown (15-20 min­utes). Scat­ter with ex­tra thyme and lemon rind, and serve hot. Wine sug­ges­tion Amon­til­lado or vin jaune.

Ham and pro­volone mac and cheese with fried egg

If there were such a thing as break­fast pasta, this would be it. That said, we could eat this at any time of day. We’ve used mafalda, a rib­bon-like pasta with curly edges, but fet­tuc­cine also works nicely.

Prep time 20 mins, cook 30 mins

Serves 4 (pic­tured p108)

400 gm dried mafalda

300 ml pour­ing cream

300 gm mas­car­pone

150 ml milk

200 gm pro­volone pic­cante, coarsely grated,

plus ex­tra for scat­ter­ing

100 gm parme­san, finely grated, plus ex­tra

for scat­ter­ing

4 thick slices leg ham off the bone, torn

Olive oil, for fry­ing

4 eggs

200 gm firm ri­cotta

Coarsely chopped flat-leaf pars­ley and thyme, to serve

1 Pre­heat oven to 180C. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boil­ing salted wa­ter un­til not quite al dente (7-8 min­utes). Drain and re­turn to pan with 2 tbsp pasta cook­ing wa­ter. Stir in cream, mas­car­pone and milk to com­bine, then stir in pro­volone, parme­san and ham, and sea­son gen­er­ously to taste. Di­vide among four 500ml shal­low ramekins or bak­ing dishes, scat­ter with ex­tra pro­volone and parme­san, and bake un­til bub­bling and golden brown (20-25 min­utes).

2 Mean­while, heat a splash of oil in a fry­ing pan over medium-high heat and fry one egg to your lik­ing (2-3 min­utes for soft yolks). Trans­fer to a plate and re­peat with re­main­ing eggs.

3 To serve, top each dish with a spoon­ful of ri­cotta and a fried egg, and scat­ter with herbs. Wine sug­ges­tion Cloudy prosecco col fondo.

Mush­room and Fon­tina riga­toni

Make the most of win­ter mush­rooms and use a mix of the best in the mar­ket. We’ve ramped up the flavour of this riga­toni dish by adding dried mush­rooms to the mix, too. If you can’t find Fon­tina, Ta­leg­gio or an­other washed-rind cheese would work well in its place.

Prep time 15 mins, cook 40 mins

Serves 4

500 gm mixed mush­rooms, such as Swiss brown, flat and pine

2 tbsp olive oil

Finely grated rind of ½ lemon

1 gar­lic clove, finely chopped

400 gm dried riga­toni (we used whole­meal) 185 ml ( 3/ cup) pour­ing cream

4

20 gm mixed dried mush­rooms, soft­ened in 60ml boil­ing wa­ter for 20 min­utes

150 gm Fon­tina, diced

50 gm parme­san, finely grated, plus ex­tra for scat­ter­ing

1½ tbsp coarsely chopped sage, plus 1 tbsp ex­tra leaves

60 gm chilled but­ter, coarsely chopped

1 Pre­heat oven to 200C. Halve or quar­ter larger mush­rooms and keep smaller ones whole. Toss in a roast­ing pan with olive oil, lemon rind and half the gar­lic and roast un­til browned on the edges (6-8 min­utes).

2 Mean­while, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boil­ing salted wa­ter un­til not quite al dente (10-12 min­utes). Drain and re­turn to pan.

3 Bring cream, dried mush­rooms and their soak­ing liq­uid, and re­main­ing gar­lic to a sim­mer in a saucepan, add to pasta along with Fon­tina and parme­san, sea­son to taste and mix well.

Fold in roasted mush­rooms and chopped sage, spread in a 2-litre bak­ing dish, scat­ter with ex­tra parme­san and bake un­til bub­bling and golden brown (20-25 min­utes).

4 Cook but­ter in a saucepan over medium-high heat un­til light nut brown (2-3 min­utes). Re­move from heat, add ex­tra sage leaves and sea­son to taste. Serve pasta hot driz­zled with sage but­ter. Wine sug­ges­tion Well-cel­lared pinot noir.

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