Big Mac Bites Back – Magnificent Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Macaroni Cheese is in my top 10 dishes. There are lots of ways you can make it – this is mine. There are two important steps 1.  cook the pasta until al dente, 2.  make a smooth as velvet cheese sauce.

I’ve had several Italian’s eat this and they’ve been really surprised that British people can make a dish that is associated with their Nonna.  British Cheddar Cheese is really under-valued within the UK and it’s only when I’ve got overseas friends staying that they go crazy for cheddar  and our Jams! I wanted to write this down as I read this week that almost half the UK population don’t know how to make it. I would credit this source but I can’t find it online! Although there has just been the third State-wide Big Mac Bake-Off in Hampshire, US. Ahh, bliss!

Serves 4 (2 adults, 2 children)


00 Flour
25g Unsalted Butter (use salted if you want)
500ml Semi-Skimmed Milk (use full-fat if you want) Remove from fridge at least 15mins before cooking to prevent curdling .
5 Bay Leaves (Dry or Fresh – no difference in end result)
150g Finest British High-Street Cheddar Cheese
100g Grana Padano
(use the Rind from Grana Padano or Pecorino if you have one spare as it gives the sauce extra depth in flavour)

Other Key Ingredients

Pasta 250g cooked Fresh or Dry Penne or Rigatoni (We prefer Penne)
80g Prosciutto Crudo (alternatively you can use Pancetta but cook it or Parma Ham if you are going for that Premium dish)
3 or 4 Vine Ripened Tomatoes (Lidl always have a great supply and they are not expensive)
50g each of  Finest British High-Street Cheddar Cheese and Grana Padano


You need to:

1. Cook the pasta in boiling water (follow instructions but this will be roughly 9 mins for dry pasta, 3-4 minutes for fresh pasta). Once cooked but still al dente i.e. not soggy drain and leave to stand in colander or large sieve.

2. Melt butter slowly. Once melted remove from heat and add the 00 Flour stirring until you have a smooth paste with no lumps.

3. Place pan back on heat source once you are ready to add some milk approx. 50 ml and slowly stir with a wooden spoon, whisk or if you are really lucky a double ended balloon whisk until it is all combined.


Balloon Whisk with simpler whisk and wooden spoon on either side. Red tablecloth with large white spots on background.

My favourite Balloon Whisk with the humble wooden spoon and a simpler whisk

4. Add remainder of the milk and stir slowly on a moderate heat ensuring you are not leaving any parts of the sauce attaching itself to your lovely saucepan!

5. The sauce will start to thicken slowly after 5 mins or so and if you are confident about the sauce thickening add the Bay Leaves now. If not, wait until the sauce has thickened.

6. Add the Cheddar and Grana Padano slowly and watch carefully that the sauce doesn’t curdle. This will only happen if your milk was too cold or the heat source was too hot.

7. Add Prosciutto, Cooked Pancetta or Parma Ham sliced into small fragments to the sauce as it will give a lovely smoked, meaty taste to the sauce. Obviously if you are Vegetarian or don’t eat Pork skip the meat.

8. Add cooked, drained pasta to a large, shallow oven-proof dish.

9. Pour cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and keep those Bay Leaves in as again they add a magnificent flavour to the sauce.

10. Place thinly sliced, ripe tomatoes around the edge of the dish as a tribute to 1950’s cooking. Don’t overlap the tomatoes as you won’t get that wonderful roasted tomato intensity.

11. Add the remainder of the Cheddar and Pecorino to the top of the dish. Season with Pepper and if you have any spare Basil or Chopped, Fresh Parsley add that to the tomatoes.

White oval ceramic dish containing penne, cheese sauce and sliced tomatoes round the edge

Mac and Cheese before being blasted in the oven

12. Bake in the oven at 180 F or Gas Mark 6 for 40-45 min and obviously check your oven every so often. We like ours very baked so the rich intensity of the Prosciutto and Tomatoes has spread throughout the dish.

13. Remove from the oven when cooked and let it rest for a minimum of  5 mins. This will ensure you don’t burn the roof of your mouth or your little ones. For Kids, I decant some of the Macaroni onto little plates to increase the cooling process.

Baked Mac and Cheese in oval white ceramic dish

Baked Mac and Cheese

14. Eat from your favourite dish, bowl or plate.


Baked Mac and Cheese Single Cooked Portion in white ceramic bowl

Baked Mac and Cheese Single Cooked Portion

NB If there’s any left it’s delicious next day microwaved as the flavours have combined even further.

This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh.


Postscript 06/02/12

Delighted that this recipe was one of the winners selected by Tilda Rice. Hurrah

2 Responses to "Big Mac Bites Back – Magnificent Macaroni Cheese Recipe"

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  1. Kate on Thin Ice

    January 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Like how you give really detailed instructions with warnings when needed. Commenting for BritMums

  2. ella

    January 22, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Thanks Kate, I like your biog


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