• BBQ Series part1

    Macaroni cheese

    Now that the days are longer and starting to be filled with sunlight once again, it is natural to think of outdoor cooking and for barbecues to make their first appearance of the year.

    In most countries the word ‘barbecue’ is used to describe cooking over an open fire or a gas grill; typically a fast, high-heat method. In the USA, however, the word is used to describe a much slower way of cooking that uses an indirect source of heat (typically a wood or charcoal fire which adds smoke to the process) and produces very complex flavours and aromas. Barbecue cooking varies greatly between states, with the four main regional styles being those of Kansas City, Texas, Memphis and the Carolinas. Over the next couple of months The Epicurean will feature a series of recipes involving American barbecue cooking, starting with some typical side dishes and then moving on to cooking the meat at home and making the accompanying sauces.

    The dish we’re making today, macaroni cheese, can be served as a hearty side dish with a barbecue or as a main course with a green salad (the amounts mentioned here make eight or four portions respectively). Starting with the pasta, macaroni (elbow shapes) is of course the obvious choice, but any short, hollow (such as corkscrew) or open (such as shell) shape will suffice. Cook the pasta in well-salted boiling water until a minute or two short of being al dente, so that it finishes cooking in the sauce. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.

    Smooth sauce

    Melt three tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and add the flour. Whisk over a medium-low heat until the flour turns slightly golden (about 2-3 minutes) and then add the mustard. Increase the heat to medium and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until all the milk is incorporated in the mixture and there are no lumps. When the sauce comes to the boil, turn the heat off, add the mix of cheeses and whisk until the sauce is smooth and glossy. When the pasta is ready, add it to the sauce, taste and add salt if necessary.

    Preheat your oven’s grill (or the oven to the highest temperature) and butter a large ovenproof dish (or individual ones for each diner) and transfer the pasta and all the sauce into it. Mix the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle over the pasta. Cook under the grill for 3-5 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Allow the dish to cool for a few minutes before serving.


    Price per portion: €1-2

    Photo: Jeroen van Kooten

    • Ingredients (4 people)

      400g macaroni
      4 tablespoons butter
      4 tablespoons flour
      1l milk
      1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
      400g grated mixed cheese (e.g. Gruyère, Emmentaler, Gouda or Cheddar)
      1.5 cups breadcrumbs
      50g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano