Posh macaroni cheese with crispy bacon and oven dried tomatoes

This is comfort food at its finest. I always like to get a traditional recipe into this blog as they generate the most comments and lots of lovemoney.com readers seem to enjoy the more traditional dishes. So here is my take on a classic.

Ingredients

  • 1 500g pack of Sainsbury’s macaroni (68p)
  • 1 ½ pints of milk (45p)
  • 1 pack of butcher's choice dry cured streaky bacon (£2)
  • 1 ball of Sainsbury’s basic mozzarella (47p)
  • 4 large shallots (42p)
  • 4 medium tomatoes (45p)
  • 200g of Sainsbury’s Shropshire blue (£1.47)

The cupboard staples…

Salt, black pepper, sugar, flour, butter and nutmeg

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Sainsbury’s where it came to £5.94 - that's £1.48 per head!

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 190C (375F or gas mark 5).
  • Cut the 4 tomatoes in half, place on an oven tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a little pinch of sugar. Place in the oven for 30 minutes (they will be ready when reduced down to about half in size and coloured on top).
  • Cook the macaroni (300g) as instructed and set to one side once done. It’s always a good idea to drain the macaroni and then refresh in cold water once cooked. It stops the macaroni cooking and takes some starch out of the pasta as well.
  • Now for the cheese sauce, melt 70g of butter in a saucepan and add 4 finely chopped shallots. Soften the shallots without colouring, this will take about 4 minutes on a low heat. Once the shallots are softened, turn up to a medium heat and stir in 50g of plain flour and cook for 2 minutes. Then gradually add 1 ½ pints of milk and keep stirring! Once the milk and flour have incorporated into a nice lump free sauce (use a whisk if you have some lumps) add some seasoning, half a teaspoon of nutmeg and 200g of the crumbled up Shropshire blue. Cook out for a further 5 minutes and the sauce will be ready. If it looks a little thick just add a dash more milk.
  • Take an ovenproof dish and add the cooked macaroni and pour over the cheese sauce. Mix well and break the mozzarella over the top and sprinkle over some black pepper. Place in the oven for 20 minutes (at 190C with the tomatoes). The finished article will be golden and bubbling on top.
  • Finally the bacon. This is real personal preference but I prefer the bacon grilled (you could fry but it will be too greasy for the finished dish. Make sure you grill so the fat runs off and the bacon will get crispier).
  • So once the macaroni cheese and tomatoes are ready, keep them warm and place the bacon under the grill. Once the bacon is done serve the bacon and tomatoes on top of a big slice of macaroni cheese. Get some good “cheffy” height with the dish!
  • Happy eating!

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