… and I’ve tried a lot over the years. I think I’ve finally perfected it – this is the version my family enjoy anyway. You could just use Cheddar cheese but the combination of the two different cheeses gives it a lovely taste and an appetising depp golden colour.
500g small dried pasta (macaroni, spirals, twists or any shape that holds a sauce well)
90g Red Leicester cheese, coarsely grated
90g extra mature Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 heaped tablespoons butter
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
700ml semi-skimmed milk
1 level teaspoon English mustard powder
freshly grated black pepper to taste
1 large ovenproof dish (big enough for the pasta to only take up half the dish before it’s cooked)
- Pre-heat your oven to 200 deg C for conventional electric ovens, 180 deg C for fan ovens or gas mark 6
- Boil the pasta according to the cooking instructions. Drain when cooked and put it into the ovenproof dish
- Meanwhile, start making the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan.
- Stir the flour into the melted butter. It will make a thick paste.
- Stir approx a quarter of the milk into the butter and flour paste. Keep stirring until you get rid of any lumps. Then stir in the remainder of the milk.
- Carry on stirring the sauce over a high heat until it thickens (typically 2-3 minutes but it can take longer).
- Put 2 heaped tablespoons of cheese to one side so you can use it on top of the bake later.
- Add the rest of the grated cheese to the sauce. Stir it in with the mustard powder and the pepper. You should now have a good, thick cheese sauce.
- Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir the whole thing well so that all the pasta pieces are coated.
- Sprinkle the top of the mixture with the grated cheese that you put aside earlier.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is starting to turn golden
TIPS FOR CARNIVORES:
If you aren’t embracing Meatfree Mondays or can’t bear to eat a meal without some form of meat, try frying some bacon pieces or chopped up chorizo and add to the dish before you put it in the oven.