Saturday, June 16, 2012


I love cooking mac and cheese in disposable tin trays. They look like something you'd pick up from the school canteen, (Mrs Wiggins don't do china), serving up no-frills nursery food in no-frills containers. It puts macaroni cheese in its rightful place as stodgy, cheesy, creamy comfort food. Nowt fancy, like. Just (unbelievably) tasty.

I've gone a little off track with this recipe - leeks, ham and tarragon (ooh er), and tortiglioni in place of macaroni - but a good 'old fashioned' you can't beat.


serves a very greedy 2 - a polite 4 


200g tortiglioni or penne (or any old tube)
100g unsalted butter
1 large leek
250g smoked ham
150g flour
500ml milk (whole or semi)
200g mature cheddar, grated, and extra for the crust
salt, pepper 
handful tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
two tin trays (roughly 20x10cm)

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook til al dente and drain. Refresh under cold water and set aside.

Melt 25g of the butter in a small sauce and throw in the leeks. Cook over a low heat with a lid for 10 minutes so the leeks become soft and buttery. Add the ham and a pinch of salt and pour the mixture into a bowl. Set aside.

Melt the rest of the butter in the leek pan. Add the flour and set over a low heat. Fry the flour and butter for a minute or two so the gluten can develop. Add the milk a little at a time or each time the sauce thickens, and stir constantly. This should take around 5-7 minutes

When the sauce is glossy, and creamy, add the cheese, salt and pepper.

When the cheese has melted, stir in the leek mixture and the tarragon. Taste the sauce and add a little more salt if necessary.

Combine the pasta with the sauce and divide between the two tins. Ideally, you want a generous amount of sauce to pasta.

Grate the extra cheese over each dish and place in the oven for 15 minutes to crisp up.

Best served with a mustardy salad and a dollop of ketchup.

Peas are a good veggie replacement for the ham. Throw them in as you add the tarrgon.

Ding-a-ling. Back to class.


  1. Great, will try that on Monday!
    Greetings from Julia from your vegetarian cooking class!

  2. Hi Julia! Hope you are well.

    Enjoy the recipe x

  3. Oh yes. Mac n cheese. Yes please. This weather is calling for this kind of food!!

  4. Mac and cheese, an all-time favourite both by the wee ones and the children-at-heart. I don't think anyone can ever outgrow mac and cheese. Cheers for the recipe, I will try this one out by the weekend.

  5. Good adorable combination of cheese and pasta.
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