Onto the second autumn warmer dish of the week: Smoked Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese choc full of Roast Parsnip, Butternut Squash and Leeks and topped with a Hazelnut, Mature Cheddar and Chive Crumb. Wow... this is possibly the most indulgent Macaroni Cheese I have ever made. A gloriously rich smoked cheddar sauce envelopes the soft macaroni and lovely autumnal veg whilst, a crunchy hazelnut breadcrumb blanket sweeps the top. Decadent, hearty and divine. I can't help but also want to add a BBQ hit the next time I make this dish as I feel that a BBQ flavour would perfectly compliment the smokiness of the cheese sauce. How I will do this though I am not yet sure. If you are a meat eater I feel like going all out with a mountain of BBQ pulled pork to adorn the top would be nothing short of a brilliant idea whilst for the veggies out there like myself; I am really rather tempted to create some kind of tear and share bread oozing with fruity BBQ sauce, gooey mozzarella and garlic butter - a bit like this mouthwatering recipe here, as you can really never go wrong with a big ol' wedge of garlic bread - add in molten mozzarella and BBQ sauce and oh my, we mean business!
Makes enough moreish mac to fill four hungry beliies!
For the Smoked Cheddar Sauce:
600ml whole milk
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
A pinch of salt
200g mature cheddar, grated
150g smoked cheddar, grated
1/2 tsp. English mustard
For the Mac 'n' Cheese filling:
1 tbsp. each of unsalted butter and olive oil
1 large leek, cut into chunks
1 large parsnip, cut into chunks
100g butternut squash, cut into chunks
For the Crumb Topping:
50g chopped hazelnuts
50g mature cheddar, grated
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
1 large tomato, sliced
1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C, fan 180°C and start by cooking the vegetables. Into a roasting tray add your parsnip and butternut squash chunks and drizzle over 1 tbsp. olive oil or how ever much you need to coat the pieces lightly. Roast for around 25-30 minutes until tender, bronzed and caramelized and at the same time cook the leeks. Into a medium saucepan melt the unsalted butter and sweat the leeks until softened for around 10 minutes. Once cooked pour the leeks into a bowl and set aside. Also set aside your roast parsnips and butternut squash.
2. Now prepare your mac 'n' cheese. bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni for approximately 10 minutes or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain completely.
3. Whilst the pasta cooks; prepare the cheese sauce using the same saucepan you used to cook the leeks as some of the lovely flavour will be left behind in the saucepan and will add extra yummy flavour to your cheese sauce. Heat the milk in a small saucepan or a jug in the microwave until hot but not boiling. Into your medium pan used to cook the leeks, melt the butter, stir in the flour to form a paste and cook over a low heat, stirring for a couple of minutes until the roux (flour and butter paste) is golden in colour and remove from the heat. Add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring vigorously until all the milk is added and the mix is fully combined. Return to the heat and heat on a medium heat, stirring continuously for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt.
4. Stir in all of the cheese until melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the mustard and mix in the macaroni, leeks, butternut squash and parsnip.
5. Combine the breadcrumbs, chopped hazelnuts, grated cheddar and chives in a bowl and scatter over the mac 'n' cheese before arranging the slices of tomato decoratively on top. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the mac is bubbling and the crumb topping is crisp and lightly bronzed. Dig in!
Thank you for reading!