Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Macaroni Cheese And Caramel Sauce

Not together of course - the macaroni and the caramel that is. It's been a while since I've blogged, but I've been trying a couple of things over the last few days. The (mixed) results of which are below...

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With a couple of friends coming over before we went out to football on Tuesday, we were in need of some food that would provide a bit of stamina for the cold night.

Sport and pasta. What a combination. Macaroni and cheese. Another blinding duo. What better dinner to make under the circumstances?

Macaroni cheese is a spectacularly easy dish to put together and can be tweaked in a whole variety of ways to add interest - be it throwing in a bit of chicken, bacon or mushrooms. Maybe some chillis or other vegetables.

Anyway, I went for a pretty straight forward version with just a bit of tabasco sauce for a wee kick.

You will need:

- 300g macaroni
- 40g butter
- 40g plain flour
- 600ml milk
- 300g grated cheese (I used red leicester, but any will do. I suppose if you want to be vaguely traditional there should be some parmesan in it...)

Start by boiling the pasta until it is soft, but still with a bit of bite.

Once the pasta is ready, drain it and set it to one side while you make the cheese sauce.

The sauce is made from a roux base - that is butter and flour. Simply melt the butter in a pan before whisking in the flour.

Add the milk in, a bit at a time, whisking all the while. At this point start to whisk in any seasonings you are going to use. I added a little salt, a lot of black pepper and a good splash of tabasco. Allow the sauce to thicken before removing from the heat. This will take about 5 to 10 minutes.

Once off the heat, put about 250g of cheese into the sauce and whisk it in until it's all melted and you have a beautifully glossy, yellow sauce. I chose the red leicester for a bit of extra colour (as above).

Finally, combine the pasta and sauce. Lay the pasta in a deep ovenproof dish before pouring the sauce over the top and letting it sink through.

Grate the rest of the cheese onto the surface and then place it under a grill for 5-10 minutes. The cheese should start to bubble and brown and the macaroni is ready to be served!

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Now for the caramel sauce.

I'm not going to say a whole lot about the reason I was trying to make this... it involves work... and as some people from work read this I shall have to keep schtum about it. You'll all find out soon enough.

Anyway, it's part of what I will be making, and I've never made a runny caramel before, so I thought I'd best test it before I did it for real. And I'm glad I did, because it needs some work...

You will need:

- 1 tin condensed milk (about 400g)
- 150g butter
- 150g soft brown sugar

It should have been easy, but I made a couple of mistakes.

Start by melting the butter in a pan. Add the sugar to this and heat through until it has all dissolved into the butter. Make sure the sugar has all dissolved. I think I didn't quite give it long enough at this point.

Now pour in the condensed milk, stirring it all through.

Keep stirring constantly. Because I hadn't let all the sugar dissolve, and I was fiddling with the camera, some settled to the bottom and burned. Not so good.

Ideally, once the caramel is starting to boil, take it off the heat and set aside to cool before using. However, I ended up with wee flecks of burnt sugar in the sauce. I think I'll use a little less condensed milk next time around to give a thicker caramel too.

Let's hope it goes better in the near future.

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Coming up:

- Well, what is that mystery caramel for?

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