Niamh Doherty

Macaroni Cheese

In Supper on April 11, 2010 at 20:47

Mac 'n' cheese

Today’s cosy deliciousness comes courtesy of Bill Granger’s Feed Me Now. He calls it “Cheesy Pasta Gratin”, but I call a spade a spade – it’s Macaroni Cheese. This is a lovely, simple, yet comforting supper dish, and quite speedy, so it’s handy to have up your sleeve for a quick weekday dinner. It’s a real crowd-pleaser too, and so very useful if you have a houseful of children and adults to feed. Bill’s recipe serves 4-6 but I usually halve it, so just double up the quantities listed below if you have more people to provide for.

This is a great way to use up those bits of cheese that are languishing at the back of the fridge, and so, as Bill says, a good way to introduce young palates to more adventurous flavours. You can also play around with add-ins – chunks of smoked ham, coins of chorizo or crispy bacon lardons would be all be delicious, just add them to the cheese sauce before tossing with the pasta.  Bill suggests adding a handful of chopped parsley to serve, which I omit because I can’t stand the flavour of parsley. Any short pasta can be used – macaroni or penne are ideal. I use the Torciglioni Gourmet Pasta from Aldi as it’s the perfect size and shape – you need tubes to hold all that gorgeous cheesy sauce. The breadcrumbs can be bought, or whizzed up fresh as you need them. Any that you don’t use can be frozen and used straight from the freezer – no need to defrost first.

You start the cheese sauce by making a roux, which is equal quantities of butter and flour cooked for one to two minutes and used to thicken sauces. The recipe asks you to take 1.5 tablespoons of flour and the same of butter. How you’re supposed to measure out a tablespoon of butter is beyond me (my tablespoon measure looks like a large spoon, not a small ladle) so I measure 1.5 tablespoons of flour onto my weighing scales, make a note of the weight, and then weigh out the same amount of butter. Easy peasy. And one final, bossy note – when measuring out the milk, it will seem as though I’ve specified an alarming amount of liquid, but trust me! You need a lot of sauce as the pasta will soak some up when it’s in the oven.

Macaroni Cheese (adapted from Feed Me Now by Bill Granger)

Serves 2 hungry people.


250g dried short pasta such as macaroni or penne

1.5 tbsp flour

1.5 tbsp butter

440 mls milk

125g gruyere or cheddar (or any other hard cheese), grated

salt and pepper

70g fresh breadcrumbs

1 tbsp olive oil

1.5 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

Grated zest of 1/4 small lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 2oo Celcius. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour. Stir until smooth and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Return the pan to the heat and cook, still whisking (you’ll have Madonna arms by the time you’re finished), until thickened. Add the cheese, stirring to melt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Put the breadcrumbs, olive oil, parmesan and lemon zest into a bowl and mix to combine.

4. Drain the pasta as soon as it is cooked and add the cheese sauce. Mix well and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Scatter over the breadcrumb mixture and bake for 15 minutes or so until golden.

5. Serve with peas and ketchup if you’re feeding kiddies, or a green salad, roasted cherry tomatoes and a crisp white wine for grown-ups.

  1. Yum! I make a kiddy version similar to this with a mild cheddar and a little nutmeg. The younglings love it! Have never added breadcrumbs and the idea of adding lardons is a cracker! Keep up the good work, love the blog 🙂

  2. Hi Niamh,

    Dying to try out this recipe as I am pasta fiend! I’m a little bit dairy intolerant though, just wondering would this work ok with low fat milk and cheese as they seem to have less lactose in them?

    • Hi Ellie! Low-fat milk would be fine, I think, but low-fat cheese often isn’t as flavourful as full-fat, so I would suggest using either low-fat milk and an aged low-fat cheddar cheese for more flavour, or using lactose-free milk and a full-fat cheese – that way you’d cut down on the lactose but still keep the full cheese flavour of the dish. Let me know how you get on!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: