Friday, 17 October 2014

The Mac & Cheese that Takes the Mustard!

Maccheroncini al Forno con Gorgonzola, Miele, Senape & Timo
Gorgonzola, Honey, Mustard & Thyme Baked Macaroni & Cheese


Macaroni and cheese... admittedly, not one of my favorites... although I suppose the rest of the know universe adores it!

Alas, generally speaking, it is way to fatty, rich and heavy for my liking- but being the kinda guy who never says never, I decided to try out something new and a little different... and you all know me well enough by now to know that "new" and "a little different" is EXACTLY the kind of dish that I like best!


Gorgonzola is great stuff, but it does have a rather strong and penetrating flavor- which of course is part of what makes it great, but can also make it difficult to balance with other ingredients. It is also rather fatty and heavy to digest... and so with that in mind, I tried to bring a little balance into the equation.

By adding honey, I was able to mellow the flavor of the Gorgonzola, much as a slice of pear or a grape does when you are eating it as a part of your cheese platter. The mustard helps to cut through the fatty and heavy nature of the cheese- as well of course as going wonderfully with the honey. And thyme? Well- that's pretty much a no-brainer as it goes with all of those ingredients! Add nutmeg and you have really rich and perfect flavors, all combined into one gently and pleasing result. Epic!


So, in order to transform 2 handfuls of small maccaroni into this great supper, I added a couple of Spring onions, 1 teaspoon of mustard, 1 teaspoon of honey, 2-3 slices of Gorgonzola and some fresh parsley and thyme. A little milk went in there too, as did a drop of olive oil and some freshly grated nutmeg... but we will get to those things in just a second. And I would hope that those are things you already all have at home anyway!


The result is great- still unctuous and juicy under the golden top layer, without being too heavy... and with that great herb flavor of the thyme and with the honey and mustard going on, just much more flavorful than the usual! You might just like it!

I started off by gently browning the finely sliced Spring onion with 3-4 sprigs of plucked thyme leaves whilst the maccaroni boiled.


I added just enough milk to cover the base of the pan and brought it gently to a simmer whilst I drained off the macaroni, ready to be added.


In went the noodles, the mustard, the honey, plenty of salt, pepper and nutmeg and the Gorgonzola, cut into relatively small chunks- as i said- it didn't take much more than a couple of slices- and I recommend you hold back too- otherwise it may end up being a little overpowering in flavor.


Stir in the cheese and milk until they melt together and become one.


Once the mixture is nice and smooth, add a good pinch of finely chopped parsley and stir it in before transferring it to a baking dish, ready for the oven.


Add more pepper and nutmeg and a few blobs more of cheese and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until deliciously golden brown.


Lovely and crispy and golden on top... and steamy and juicy and rich and creamy down below! Oh yes, it may be very different, but trust me, it still very much so has that comfort-food feeling and flavor to it!


But don't take my word for it... get into the kitchen and make it and take a bite of it instead!

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