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Macaroni Cheese with Bacon, Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes
An excellent brunch or lunch dish, especially if served with a small salad.
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For 6 people:
400g Penne, Macaroni or Rigatoni Pasta
1 teaspoon (5ml) Salt
2 tablespoons/30ml Vegetable Oil
1 medium clove of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
1 big/2 medium Onions, peeled and chopped
9 slices of Back Bacon, the rind removed then cut into sections
12 cup Mushrooms, cut into quarters
24 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
For the Cheese Sauce:
1½ litres Milk
3 Bay leaves
1 level teaspoon/5ml Dried Mixed Herbs
1 medium Onion, peeled and chopped
` 60g Butter
4 tablespoons (60ml) Plain Four
350g Extra Mature Cheddar + 200g for the topping
2 teaspoons English Mustard Powder
1. Bring a very large saucepan of water to the boil, and add a teaspoon of salt.
2. Add the pasta, and stir to stop it sticking together.
3. Cook at boiling point for 10-12 minutes - or as directed on the packet.
4. Once cooked, drain and run cold water through it to remove any excess starch - set aside.
5. Make the sauce: While the paste is cooking – put the milk in a saucepan with the bay leaves and the chopped onion.
6. Let it come to the boil, slowly, to extract flavour from the additions. – watching carefully as it might suddenly boil over.
7. Meanwhile, gently melt the butter in another big saucepan, and using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, squeezing-out any lumps.
8. Sieve the milk and discard the bay leaves and chopped onion.
9. Add small amounts of milk to the flour roux, blending each addition in thoroughly before adding any more. Continue this until all the milk has been added – cook until you have a smooth thick sauce – you may need to increase the heat to medium. If any lumps appear, they can be removed by beating the sauce with a whisk
10. Remove from the heat and beat in the grated cheese and whisk in the mustard powder.
11. Season to taste with salt and pepper – remembering the bacon will add extra salt flavour.
12. Heat the oil in a big deep frying pan or similar, over a medium heat.
13. Stir in the onion and fry gently for about 5 minutes, until it begins to soften.
14. Add the bacon pieces and garlic (if using) and fry for a further 4 minutes moving it around the pan
15. Add the mushroom quarters to the pan and fry for 3 minutes – stirring occasionally.
16. Mix the bacon and mushroom mixture into the cheese sauce with the raw, halved, cherry tomatoes.
17. Add the cooked pasta, and mix well in - transfer the mixture to a ovenproof dish, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, then put the container in a pre-heated oven (200°/Gas 6) for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling. For extra colour, the top might need finishing under the grill.