Gruyere and Mushroom Mac and Cheese with a Cayenne Crust

By Thursday, October 30, 2014

There is something about macaroni cheese that is just so comforting. With its carb and dairy overload, it's very hard to find much wrong with it! Its deliciously gooey texture makes it totally indulgent and incredibly moreish. Once you have a basic staple recipe, you can experiment a lot with ingredients and flavours. This is one of my personal favourites. The cauliflower adds texture, the mushrooms give the sauce a deep, earthy flavour and the cayenne crust adds an unexpected kick and crunch to every bite. This recipe doesn't take long at all to make, and is absolutely best homemade! 

Serves 6-8

You will need:

500g dried macaroni
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
15 cauliflower florets
1 litre milk
100g bread
170g gruyere, grated
75g butter
50g flour
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated

Preheat the oven to 220/ gas 7. Begin by cooking the mushrooms with a little butter in two batches in a frying pan over a medium heat. Season each batch well. Once nicely browned, pour onto a plate and leave to one side. Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, cook the cauliflower in boiling salted water for 6-8 minutes, until just cooked. Drain and leave with the mushrooms. 

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain and pour cold water over to stop it from cooking any further. In the meantime, blitz the bread in a food processor until it is nice and fine. Place in a mixing bowl. Melt 25g butter and pour over the crumbs with the cayenne and plenty of seasoning. Mix everything together well and leave to one side. 

When all of the other steps are done, begin making the white sauce. Melt the remaining butter over a medium heat in a heavy based saucepan. Mix in the flour, and cook for 2 minutes, until it is nice and golden. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk. 

Add in the nutmeg and plenty of seasoning. Place the pan on the heat and bring back to the boil, whisking regularly. Once the milk begins to boil, it will start to thicken. Once it falls in small thin drops off the spoon, it is ready to be taken off the heat. You don't want the sauce to become too thick, as the cheese and time in the oven will thicken the sauce also. Whisk in the cheese and adjust the seasoning. Finally, stir in the macaroni, cauliflower and mushrooms, making sure everything is well combined. 

Pour into a large casserole dish and top with the cayenne crumbs. 

Place in the oven for 30 minutes, when the sauce will be deliciously molten and the crust will be lovely and crisp. Serve and enjoy!

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