THREE CHEESE MACARONI
Macaroni was the first pasta to capture the English palate in the simple form of macaroni cheese. First the dish was based on familiar Cheddar, but soon more trendy versions emerged, featuring two or three types of cheese such as this brisk blue Stilton with a creamy goat cheese. A glass of robust red wine, nothing fancy but full-bodied enough to stand up to the cheese is the perfect accompaniment.
¾ lb/330 g macaroni
3 oz/90 g soft goat cheese
3 oz/90 g Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
For the cheese sauce
1 quart/1 liter milk
3 oz/90 g butter, more for the baking dish
3 tablespoons/45 g flour
Salt and pepper
1 cup/100 g/6 oz mature Cheddar cheese, grated
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
8-in/20-cm cast iron skillet or a large baking dish
1. Heat the oven to 375˚C/190˚F. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente – tender but still chewy. Drain the pasta in a colander and tip into a bowl. Butter the skillet or baking dish – a cast-iron pan or gratin dish will give you a lovely crust.
2. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce: scald the milk in a saucepan. Melt the butter in another saucepan, whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the flour brown. Take the pan from the heat and whisk in the hot milk. Return the pan to the heat and bring the sauce to the boil, whisking constantly until it simmers and thickens. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, still whisking, until the sauce generously coats the back of a spoon, 1-2 minutes. Set aside half the Cheddar cheese and stir the rest into the sauce just until melted, ½-1 minute. Take the sauce at once from the heat as the cheese will form strings if it is overcooked. Whisk in the mustard, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Be careful not oversalt the sauce as the blue cheese will add more taste.
3. Stir the cheese sauce into the cooked macaroni and taste again for seasoning. Spread half the macaroni in the buttered dish and crumble the goat and blue cheeses on top. Cover with the remaining macaroni and spoon over any remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with the reserved Cheddar cheese.
4. Bake the macaroni for 25-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. If the surface is not browned, turn on the grill for the last 5 minutes to brown the crust. Let the dish rest for 5 minutes so the flavours mellow before serving. Macaroni cheese can be prepared 2-3 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator, or frozen for three months. To finish, thaw the Macaroni Cheese if necessary and bake it in the oven as directed.