Mac & Cheese

The next recipe is one of my all time favourite bakes… Chicken & Mushroom Mac & Cheese! It might not be as simple as some of the other recipes on here, but it’s just as delicious! Enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 250 Pasta (I use Conchiglie, aka: shells)
  • Parmesan, mild Cheddar, Leerdammer, Mozzarella
  • Teaspoon of salt
  • Baby Chicken (cut in four pieces)
  • Chestnut mushrooms
  • Small peeled onion
  • Bay leaf
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Carda-mom’s the word
  • Turmeric powder
  • Cumin powder
  • Cloves
  • Ginger*
  • Garlic clove*
  • Flora butter (light)
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Nutmeg

* optional

Method:

Pasta:

Begin by boiling the 1 & 1/2 litres of water… Once the water has boiled, add one teaspoon salt and then boil again for 2-3minutes. Add the macaroni for 4-5 minutes (you do this because it’s going to cook it some more in the oven later).

Chicken:

Fry the baby chicken in the pot (before boiling) for a bit, adding the boiling water (amount equivalent to a full kettle).

Stock:

To make the stock: include a small peeled onion (whole), one ‘bae’ leaf, cinnamon stick, cracked cardamom, quarter teaspoon turmeric powder, quarter teaspoon cumin powder and two or three cloves. You could add a peeled garlic clove and/or washed ginger for extra flavour.

Boil the chicken pieces for 20 minutes and then take off heat. Remove the chicken from the stock and transfer into sifter to drain the stock. Cover to protect against drying. Once cooled, use your fingertips to debone the chicken into chunks.

1 cup of sieved stock is to be set aside for the macaroni & cheese’s white sauce, with the rest left to freeze for use in another recipe at a later date.

The turmeric prevents inflammation while the cumin prevents bloating.

White sauce:

The white sauce needs four levelled tablespoons light Flora butter, four tablespoons flour, four cups of milk (semi-skimmed is my choice), grounded fresh nutmeg.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and add flour (on a high heat) to form a doughy mixture. Then, add gradual cups of milk, whisking as you go along (until it thickens).

Remember, once you start adding the milk, you should also be lowering the heat; this prevents the white sauce from burning. You’ll start to feel it thickening, continue to lower heat until the end and leave to simmer.

The tell-tale sign of ‘ready’ is when bubbles start appearing on the top of the mixture… As soon as you see them bubbles, turn off the heat and take off the hob, adding some grated nutmeg for extra flavour.

You’ll notice that I didn’t add salt, this is because the butter of my choice includes it.

Filling the Macaroni & Cheese:

Now, let’s get cheesy – bring the Leerdammer, mild Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan (1-1/2 cups grated) into the mix. If you can’t locate some Leerdammer, you can use some Gruyere.

1/2 cup of the cheese is to be mixed with white sauce. The rest of the cheese is to be left until the end for garnish and/or mixed in with the chicken and mushroom layers.

One onion, sliced finely, fried with a squirt of olive oil, adding chestnut mushrooms (washed, dried, chopped and peeled – there’s dirt and sand in mushrooms, make sure you clean them properly). Once the onion has been shallow fried, push them to the back of the fryer, making room for the mush! Add the medium sliced mushrooms and turn up the heat to stop water from seeping out.

Mix mushroom and onion with spatula adding a dash of salt, ground pepper. Finally (for this part), add the chicken to the mushroom and onions (same seasoning).

Assembly:

Spread the 1-2 tablespoons of white sauce in the dish (to stop it from sticking), then add half the macaroni, half the chicken and mushroom (adding grated cheese *optional), and half the white sauce + half stock water (adding grated cheese *optional) and repeat.

At the end, garnish with white sauce and grated cheese. In order for the cheese not to burn, spread 2-3 tablespoons of milk on top of the cheese and more mushrooms.

Baking:

Coat the macaroni and cheese dish with silver foil, leave some room between the dish and the coating so as not to stick. Use a fork to pierce some holes into the foil.

At this point, your oven should’ve been preheated to 200 degrees. Before you bake the gratin, lower the heat to 180. Cook for 20-25 mins.

After baking for 20-25minutes, reduce heat to 150 and remove tin foil. Cook it some more for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Depending on your oven, the cooking time should last between 40-45 minutes (in all). Leave to cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Again, I ate the photo (included) too.