Best-ever macaroni cheese with crunch crumb

Best-ever macaroni cheese with crunch crumb

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(7 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 40 mins Cook: 1 hr Plus infusing

Skill level



Serves 5

Need cheering up? This pasta bake features bacon and Parmesan with a cheddar white sauce - a comfort food classic

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving

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  • 2 bay leaves - fresh if you have them
  • 1 large leek, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1.2l semi-skimmed milk
  • 100g salted butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 280g extra mature cheddar, grated
  • 50g parmesan, finely grated
  • 450g macaroni
  • 6 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 70g pack pancetta slices
  • 2 hand-cut thick slices bread (about 2cm) from a white loaf, cubed
  • olive oil, for drizzling

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  1. Put the bay leaves, leek and milk in a pan, and gently heat until steaming but just below boiling point. Take off the heat and set aside to infuse for 1 hr.
  2. Drain the milk and discard the leek and bay. Wipe out the pan, then add the butter, flour and mustard powder. Heat, stirring, until the butter has melted, then cook to a paste for 1 min. Splash in some milk gradually and stir until smooth and completely incorporated. Add the rest of the milk, a little at a time at first, then gradually add more as the mixture gets saucy. (If you get any lumps, give it a vigorous whisk to remove.) Heat, stirring all the time and scraping the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t catch, until the sauce is bubbling and nicely thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in 200g of the cheddar and 25g of the Parmesan. Season really well – keep tasting as it will need a generous amount of salt.
  3. Cook the macaroni following pack instructions, until it is almost tender but still has a bit of chew to it. Drain well, then stir into the cheese sauce with three-quarters of the spring onions. Scrape into a large ovenproof dish or several individual ones.
  4. Scatter the remaining cheddar over the macaroni, then alternate between draping over pancetta slices (bunching them up a bit) and scattering with the bread cubes and remaining spring onions. (If you keep swapping between ingredients you’ll get a nice mix of everything on the top.) Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and add a very little drizzle of oil – holding your thumb over the bottle so just a trickle comes out. Can now be cooled, covered and chilled for up to 1 day, or frozen for up to 1 month.
  5. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Bake for 40 mins until bubbling, and crunchy and golden on top (if using individual dishes, check after 30 mins).

Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2013

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Nickhodsman's picture

This worked brilliantly, was delicious, and we made a second batch they came out of the freezer 2 weeks later!

foxychickvp's picture

Me and my we boy love this recipe x best ever macaroni iv tasted but I add extra mozzarella to it x

hootiemcboob's picture
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Love this recipe, my daughter asks me to make it nearly every Saturday. The crunchy topping really makes this special

tickers's picture

I made this Sunday exactly to the recipe, used an uncut loaf of tiger bread for the topping and was quite generous with the olive oil before it went into the oven. It filled a 13" x 11" square dish to the top!

Result? Totally awesome!!! Definitely going to become a regular in my house!!!

I have veggie friends coming over in a week or so's time so replacing the pancetta with chopped sun dried tomatoes and a few capers for saltiness.

Tip - heat the milk / leak mixture slowly and also the base for the cheese sauce as it catches very easily.

solentgreen's picture
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If I "need cheering up" I wouldn't think to make a manky, stoggy mess for dinner. Thanks for the tip, normally I just up my meds.

vfinney's picture

I get that there's cheese and butter in this, but that dish is NEVER 5000 calories in grand total! :-|
The rest is veg and pasta. Would like to see the calculation done for this...

Bethanwy's picture
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This was really tasty and the crunchy topping was absolutely gorgeous. I'm thinking of investing in a broader oven dish so I can make extra topping next time...

bien05's picture
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because we don't have cheddar, I used old Dutch cheese and it was delicious!

deirdrecooke's picture

I made this last night and was so disappointed with how ordinary it was, I won't be making this again.