Macaroni cheese has to be up there with my favourite comfort foods — out of the four books I have written so far, three contain a recipe for mac ’n’ cheese. I think it stems from childhood and the pasta bakes mum used to make for us — I only ever once ate the canned variety and remember the results (not of an appropriate nature to write about descriptively here). This version is for more mature palates, as it’s enriched with crabmeat and spiced with mustard, Asian chilli sauce and cayenne. It is based on a lobster mac ’n’ cheese I had at Beauty & Essex in Manhattan a few years ago.
- 500g macaroni
- 100g butter
- 100g plain flour
- 500ml milk
- 500ml chicken stock
- 150g Gruyère, finely grated
- 150g strong Cheddar, finely grated
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 6 tbsp sriracha sauce, plus extra to serve
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 300g white crabmeat
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 25g breadcrumbs
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions, then drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/180 degrees Celsius fan/gas mark 6.
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat until the butter melts, then stir in the flour using a wooden spoon to make a very thick paste. Allow the paste to cook for a minute until browned slightly, then beat in a ladleful of milk — it will get quickly absorbed, so repeat. When you’ve added all the milk, switch to a whisk and add the stock, a little at a time, whisking to avoid any lumps. As soon as the liquids are incorporated, add the cheeses, reserving a little to sprinkle on top, along with the mustard, sriracha and cayenne pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes, then season to taste, remembering that when you add the pasta the seasoning will be diluted, so over-season.
- Add the crabmeat, parsley and macaroni to the sauce to combine well and tip into a medium-sized roasting dish. Sprinkle over the reserved cheese and the breadcrumbs and bake for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbling.
Also from Comfort:
Reprinted with permission from Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul by John Whaite and published by Kyle Books, 2018