This Easy Macaroni Cheese recipe combines rich, creamy pasta with a crunchy topping, a dash of cayenne heat and a secret layer of caramelised onions.
- 125 g (5 oz) butter – 25 g (1 oz) plus 100 g (4 oz)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large onions
- 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
- 350 g (12 oz) dried macaroni
- 50 g (2 oz) plain flour
- 2 teaspoons cayenne
- 860 ml (2 pints) milk
- 350 g (12 oz) strong, hard cheese such as mature cheddar
- salt and pepper
- 50 g (2 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- Put 25 g of the butter and the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and place over a very low heat.
- Peel and roughly chop the onions and add them to the pan. Cook the onions very gently for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The aim is to caramelise the onions so that they are a light golden colour and their natural sweetness is enhanced. When the onions are done, season with salt and stir in the soft brown sugar. Set aside until required.
- While the onions are gently cooking, cook the macaroni in a pan of salted, boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. This would normally take around 10-15 minutes. When it is cooked, drain the hot water from the pasta and put it back in the saucepan covered with cold water to prevent it clumping together.
- Make the cheese sauce by melting the remaining 100 g of butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the flour, mix it into the butter and cook gently for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the milk into the butter and flour mixture. Put the saucepan back onto the heat and stir until the sauce has thickened. Grate the cheese and add 300 g to the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drain the cooked macaroni and add it to the cheese sauce.
- Pour half of the mixture into a rectangular dish of approximately 40 cm x 25 cm. Spread the caramelised onions on top and then add the other half of the mixture.
- Sprinkle the remaining 50 g of grated cheese on top together with the breadcrumbs.
- Heat your oven to 200 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 6 and bake the macaroni cheese for 30 minutes. When it is done, it will be hot all through and the top will be crisp and golden.
It is very easy to make your own breadcrumbs by whizzing stale bread in a food processor for a few minutes. They can then be stored in the fridge for several days or frozen for several months.
You can make the macaroni cheese a day in advance up until step 7 and keep it in the fridge. Make sure that you allow it to come back up to room temperature before heating in the oven.
Keywords: macaroni, cheese, pasta bake, vegetarian