Cheese Board Mac and Cheese recipe
Believe it or not, Christmas Day was only 3 weeks ago. It feels like 100 years ago, now I’m back in the swing of work and not having a glass of wine with every meal. I have, however, still got odds and sods of my festive cheese board cluttering up the fridge, and with pay day still 2 and a half weeks away, my frugal Cheese Board Mac and Cheese was born.
My Father hated wasting food; a trait I’ve inherited, to the point I can often be found eating up old, dry things I find in the bottom of the fridge. Odd bits of cheese board cheese are a constant annoyance to me; what am I meant to do with a tiny bit of Manchego, the end of a Brie and an aging slab of Comte. Cheese board mac and cheese is what you do with it, as it turns out. This is a brilliantly simple, one pot dish; it’s hearty, flavoursome thanks to your lovely cheese board dog ends and finished under the grill with a herby crumb. My Christmas leftovers involved a tiny bit of Manchego, the aforementioned Comte and Clyde’s favourite cranberry Wensleydale. All these bought tons to the party, then to continue on the frugal theme, I blitzed a bread crust with some sage I fridge foraged to add some crunch and some colour.
It’s sub zero outside as we speak, this mac and cheese is just the sort of rib sticking, comfort food you need. And it’s almost free, monetarily speaking, definitely not calorifically speaking.
I bloody love a frugal dish; there’s something very satisfying about making something out of nothing. Don’t feel you have to use the classic macaroni, any small pasta would be ok here. The cheese is up to you; a bit of Stilton would be nice, although it will dominate the flavour, a bit of soft cheese too would be great, just use up all those tiny bit of cling filmed gems in your cheese drawer.
I started by processing my cheese selection in the food processor, but of course you can do this with a grater too. Reserve a quarter of the cheese for the crumb topping. While you’ve got the Magimix out, process the bread crust and your salvaged herbs until you have a fine crumb. Mix with the quarter of saved cheese.
Now take a lovely big high sided pan and the butter. Gently melt over a low heat then stir through your macaroni.
Pour on the milk, mine was full fat for extra creaminess, stir then add some salt (not too much at the stage as the cheese will bring it’s own salt) pepper and a teaspoon of mustard powder, or regular mustard, then bring up to a gentle simmer.
Simmer over a low heat, stirring regularly for around 10 minutes, or until your pasta is cooked to al dente and the milk is coating it in sauce-like fashion. Stir through your lovely grated cheese selection.
Turn your grill up to high, then sprinkle the top of your dish with the herb crumbs. Pop under the grill until the whole thing is golden and bubbling and smelling amazing.
All that’s left to do is to plate up in large portions with some crispy bacon or grilled tomatoes on the side. We love peas, but they’re not terribly photogenic.
This is easy, cheesy one pot magic. Perfect for January when you’re low on energy, funds, warmth and inclination.
Cheese Board Mac and Cheese recipe
Serves 4 (or two hungrier members of my family)
You will just need one large high sided frying pan for this
800ml milk, I used whole milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder, or English mustard
350g cheese, I had a mixture of Wensleydale and Comte left over from Christmas
1 slice bread
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, I had sage in my fridge, but parsley or thyme would work here
Salt and pepper to taste
Crispy bacon, grilled tomatoes and/or peas, to serve, more fresh herbs to garnish
Take a large heat proof high sided pan and melt the butter over a low heat. Stir through the macaroni and stir to coat in the butter. Pour in the milk, stir again and bring up to the simmer. Mix in the mustard powder and a little salt (not too much as the may cheese will be salty) and pepper, to taste. Cook over a low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the milk has been absorbed and is coating the pasta and the pasta is al dente. Stir regularly to avoid a pasta sticking to the bottom of the pan situation.
Grate your cheese selection or process in the food processor. Stir 3/4 of the cheese, reserving the 1/4 for the topping, into the pasta pan until it’s just melted and combined.
For the herb crumb topping, process the slice of bread and herbs until you have crumbs. Mix with the reserved cheese, then, sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese.
Heat your grill to high and put the pan under the grill for a couple of minutes until the top is bubbling and golden.
Serve in large bowlfuls, with crispy bacon on the side, and an extra sprinkle of herbs on the top. Grilled tomatoes and peas optional, but delicious.
Any leftovers will reheat beautifully for the next 2 to 3 days.