Rochelle's ultimate mac and cheese
Rochelle's in the kitchen ready to share one of her crowd-pleasing family favourites, that can be ready to go in just 30 minutes - her ultimate mac & cheese!
Ultimate mac & cheese
Serves 4 (with leftovers for another day)
300g dried macaroni
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
150g mushrooms, halved and sliced
15g unsalted butter
2 tbsp plain flour
850ml whole milk (or dairy-free alternative)
100g mature Cheddar cheese, grated, plus extra if baking
160g broccoli, stems finely sliced and florets cut into bite-sized pieces
200g frozen or canned sweetcorn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. If you would like to bake the macaroni cheese, preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a medium heat, add the macaroni and cook for 5-10 minutes, according to packet instructions until tender. Strain the macaroni, reserving a mugful of the pasta water.
3. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the red onion and mushroom, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until soft and golden.
4. Add the butter to the pan and, once melted, add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, for 1-2 minutes to make a thick paste. Add a little of the milk and stir into the flour mixture until thickened, then keep adding the milk in stages, stirring and thickening between each addition until you have a thick, glossy sauce. Add the grated cheese and broccoli, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the broccoli is tender. If you are serving this to vegetable-averse children, you can blend the sauce with a stick blender at this stage until smooth.
5. Add the sweetcorn to the pan, draining it if using canned, and stir to combine, then tip in the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water and stir again. Season to taste.
6. The macaroni cheese could now be spooned into serving bowls and served, but to make it extra special I often transfer it to a baking dish, scatter with a little extra grated cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Any leftovers can be left to cool, then stored in the fridge or freezer for another day.
For forest stage weaning, make the macaroni cheese without any seasoning, then blitz a small portion into a puree. You could also stir through some cooked peas and small pieces of cooked cauliflower to introduce a bit of texture.
Older children will enjoy the macaroni cheese as it is, just pass salt and pepper around to the adults separately when serving.