For 2 greedy people
400g penne pasta
500ml milk (and a little more if you have it)
A scant 100g each of butter and flour
2 good handfuls of grated cheese
salt and pepper
Cook your pasta in lots of boiling water for about 2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time. You’re going to be cooking it again later, so don’t overdo it now.
In the meantime, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook this paste for a minute or so. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. Spoon in about 2 ladles of the pasta cooking water. Bring the whole lot to a gentle boil and cook for another minute. Season well, to your liking. Add a good teaspoon of mustard.
While all this is going on, you can also cook the lardons in a frying pan.
Once the sauce and lardons are cooked, add the latter to the former. It’s up to you if you want to add the run-off fat from the lardons (that’ll be a “yes” then). Add a handful of grated cheese and stir through til melted.
Drain the pasta well and add this to your sauce and mix through. Tip the whole lot into an oven proof dish and top with the rest of the grated cheese (you can add another handful if you like). Pop this into the oven, heated to 190 degrees, for about 25-30 minutes, until browning on top and bubbling.
You could serve smaller helping with salad, but who eats salad, and frankly, this is proper comfort food at its best, so no thank you on the salad. This amount of mac n cheese did three good helpings for dinner for the two of us and left us with enough for lunch the following day.
You can add other bits and bobs to the mac n cheese. One piece of advice: at Christmas I made a 'Macaroni n cheese everything', which was basically everything left over in the fridge from the full-on Christmas dinner I'd made a few days previously. I added the left over cooked ham and turkey (mmmMMMmmmm) and some nuggets of sausage meat and chestnut stuffing (mmmmMMMMMMMMMMMMmmm) and Brussels sprouts (mmm-what.the.hell...). Anyway, it was vile. The sprouts overtook the whole thing, and lesson learned that day: sprouts and dairy do not mix. It was binned and a quick Chinese meal was ordered in replacement... The kitchen stank for days afterwards. Yuk.
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