Macaroni cheese is the ultimate comfort food, the perfect dish to keep you feeling warm and cosy on a cold night. Now that the clocks have gone back, British Summer Time has been brought to an official end, and there is a distinct chill in the air. Now is the time to bring out the comfort food that feels so wrong in the summer.
I adore macaroni cheese. I make all manner of versions…with chopped smoky pancetta… with blue cheese…with wild mushrooms and truffle…with four cheeses, leeks and a good spoonful of wholegrain mustard…you can do pretty much anything you want with it. This is one of my favourites…chorizo.
I always have chorizo in my fridge, either the sausage or the salami, often both. I add choirzo into as many things as I can. I stir it through my scrambled eggs in the morning, I fry discs of it and toss it through salads, it goes into casseroles, omelettes, risottos…you get the picture, I love it. (not the spicy one, mind).
When I made this, it was cold, dark and wet outside. Whilst sitting on the tube on my way home from work, I watched as the rain lashed at the windows and I flinched every time the doors opened and the freezing cold air rushed in. As I got nearer my home tube station, I prepared myself for stepping out into the cold rain. All I could think about was what would make this evening better. What could I make myself for dinner that would make this weather bearable. And macaroni cheese was the answer. I knew I had everything I needed in my kitchen…pasta, cheese, chorizo, flour, butter. All I needed was some milk, so I bought some on my way home.
I don’t follow a specific recipe for this dish, I just kind of muddle through each time and taste as I’m going along, but it always ends up tasting pretty good. The amounts below are reasonably accurate but you can change them to suit your own taste. I like a lot of cheese but if want less, add less. I happened to have Gruyère in the fridge so that’s what I used on this occasion but you can use whatever you want. You can use Emmental, Jarlsberg, Comte, anything you like and something that grates easily and melts well. If you only have cheddar, that is absolutely fine. Some people like to add parmesan…knock yourself out. I like to add mustard to mine to give it something extra, something to cut through the creaminess. You don’t have to add it, it’s your dish, have it your way.
100g cheddar cheese (I like a strong, mature one)
100g chorizo, chopped into whatever size you prefer
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Start by melting the butter in a pan, and stir in the flour to form a roux. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes to cook the flour out, then gradually add the milk, a little at a time. Cook over a low heat for about 10/15 minutes until you have a thick and smooth sauce, then add a grating of nutmeg, the mustard and a large handful of cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Take off the heat and season to taste.
Meanwhile, cook the macaroni pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until tender and preheat the grill to hot.
Then fry the chopped choizo in a frying pan for a minute or so until it starts to colour and release its ruby red juices.
Once the macaroni is ready, drain in a colander or sieve and rinse under cold running water, then tip the pasta into the cheese sauce and mix through.
Add the chorizo and maybe a little milk if the mixture is too thick. The milk will help to loosen it up a little. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter then transfer the macaroni cheese to the dish.
Then serve straight away.
This dish is like a warm hug. Its creamy, rich, cheesy, smoky, with a bite of chorizo and mustard. Perfect for making you feel better when its cold outside.
I hope you enjoy it.