Macaroni Cheese

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Macaroni Cheese

Making the Mornay sauce

With Mac'n'cheese cropping up in The Guardian's 2016 summer food trends, we're sharing the Leiths recipe so that you can stay in vogue.


Serves 2 - 4

175g dried macaroni
100g cheese (Gruyère, strong Cheddar, Parmesan or a mixture)
20g butter
20g plain flour
Pinch of English mustard powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
350ml milk
1 tbsp dried white breadcrumbs
Salt and ground pepper


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, salt generously, add the macaroni and cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the Mornay sauce, grate the cheese and set aside. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, then stir in the flour, mustard powder and cayenne pepper, using a wooden spoon. Mix to a smooth paste and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, little by little, stirring and incorporating the milk well into the roux as it is added. As more of the milk is added, the sauce will start to loosen and thin. Once a third to half of the milk has been added and incorporated, add the remaining milk in generous additions and return the saucepan to the heat.
  4. Increase the heat to medium to high and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat and simmer, without stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  5. Drain the macaroni well and heat the grill to its highest setting.
  6. Stir all but 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese into the sauce, allowing it to melt in the heat of the sauce. Season with salt and white pepper, then add the macaroni and stir well to ensure that the pasta is well coated. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish.
  7. Mix together the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese. Sprinkle this over the macaroni cheese. Place the dish under the preheated grill until the topping is golden and bubbling.


Macaroni cheese with bacon and leeks: Omit the mustard powder. Cut 100 g smoked streaky bacon into thin strips. In a small frying pan, cook until the fat is released, then add 100 g sliced, washed leeks and continue to fry until the bacon is starting to brown. Add to the sauce with the macaroni. Stir 1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard into the finished sauce. Proceed as for the main recipe.

Macaroni cheese with sage and butternut squash: Peel and deseed 1 butternut squash, then cut into chunks (you need about 350 g prepared weight). Toss in olive oil and season with salt. Roast in an oven preheated to 200°C for about 35 minutes until soft and browning. Add 1 tablespoon chiffonaded sage for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Add to the sauce with the macaroni and proceed as for the main recipe.

Macaroni cheese with ratatouille: Make ½ quantity red ratatouille and spread it across the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Spoon the macaroni cheese over the ratatouille. Proceed as for the main recipe.

See The Guardian's 2016 summer food trends here.

Lily Grouse

Author: Lily Grouse

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