Monthly Archives: November 2014

Mac & cheese 131

This isn’t finished, probably won’t ever be finished, but here is a version of Mac & Cheese that I like, that other people have tasted and enjoyed. It is according to my notes, attempt no. 131 at making Fred Smith’s (from his days at Ad Cod), Mac & Cheese.

600g macaroni raw weight
60g butter
70g plain flour
6g English mustard powder
1g turmeric
1g smoked paprika
6g salt
500g whole milk
250g cream
260g strong cheese grated (something nice and old)
250g marscapone
40g cider vinegar
30g frenchs mustard
3 egg yolks
50g butter to finish
Sea salt and black pepper to finish
Breadcrumbs and cheese to finish
100ml cream also to finish

Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water for one minute less than the pack instructions, drain and refresh in cold running water. Warm the milk over a medium heat stirring occasionally until it’s almost unomfortable to dip a finger in.

Melt the butter in a large pan on a medium heat. In a small bowl mix the flour, mustard powder, turmeric, paprika & salt. Add this to the butter and stir until it’s well combined and starts to sizzle. let this mixture cook for about 5 minutes, stiring constantly.

Gradually add the warm milk, stiring all the time. Once all the milk is added keep stiring until the sauce comes close to boiling and gets very thick. Add the cream and cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the vinegar, French’s mustard and the marscapone. When the marscapone has dissolved into the sauce, fold in the remaining butter and egg yolks. Transfer the sauce to a clean pan or bowl, lay a piece of cling film over the surface of the sauce and leave to cool.

When you’re ready to build the Mac & cheese, mix the part cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce and pour into a suitably large oven dish. Sprinkle over breadcrumbs (preferably toasted sourdough crumbs) and cheese and the remaining 100ml cream. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven on 180 degrees for 22 mins. Rotate the dish if it’s browning unevenly and drop the oven temprature buy 20 degrees if it’s colouring too quickly.

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Grilled Pickled Onions

This is based on the GPO recipe from Le Pigeon, but I scaled it up and added extra spice. It’s worth firing up the BBQ to really caramalised the onions but a hot griddle pan also works.

  • 10 medium red onions, peeled & sliced into 1cm thick disks
  • 500g red wine vinegar
  • 200g Apple cider vinegar
  • 250g water
  • 10 tablespoons dark Muscavado sugar
  • 4tbs sea salt
  • a bunch of thyme (about 15g)
  • a handful of bay leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic roughly crushed
  • 3tbs yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinamon stick
  • 3 chipotle chillies, roughly chopped

If you’re grilling the onions on the BBQ, light it and get a nice big surface area of coals as hot as possible. If you’re using a grill pan turn it onto a high heat and wait until it starts smoking.

Combine all of the ingredients except the onions in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Using your hands gently rub vegetable oil onto the cut faces of the onion disks, try to keep them as complete disks rather than separate rings. Working in small batches lay the disks onto the BBQ or grill pan and let them sizzle for 1-2 minutes each side until clear dark grill marks are visible and they smell smokey. As they become ready flip them into the still hot pickling liquid. Repeat with the rest of the onion disks.

When done, let the onions cool enough to handle and transfer to a preserving jar. Let them cool completely then move to the fridge. They’re ready after a week but after 2 weeks they become really special.

When I’m down to about  250g in my jar, I make a new batch and mix the old batch through the new before re bottling, this gives excellent contrast between young, sweet crunchy onions and older soft & sharper onions.
GPO