I’ve had a poorly 4 1/2 year old at home the past couple of days. In fact, I also kept the preschooler off too as she wanted to be with us at home and I thought, why not? I’ve been working too hard recently and what’s the point in being your own boss if you can’t just drop everything once in a while?
This was for lunch on one of the days (and reheated for dinner too on the same day actually, alongside some simple fried salmon and steamed broccoli). It’s just delicious, sooo cheesily comforting. Everyone devoured it – at both mealtimes!
It’s similar to my old Mac and Cheese recipes in that I don’t use a roux method for my cheese sauce (gave up doing that ages ago – it’s too claggy and stodgy). Instead I like to use Gruyere, Mascarpone, Parmesan and Mozzarella – quite posh, I know. I used to thicken this wine and stock based sauce with cornflour, as well as cooking the pasta separately. But I’ve simplified the process HUGELY, and skipped some steps that I thought were essential. I’ve been trying to develop this one pot version as a pressure cooker recipe and it kept sticking. But that doesn’t happen in a normal pan, as long as you stir quite a bit, which is no big ask for 10 minutes. It really is an essential recipe for every mum’s repertoire. I’m pretty sure that most kids will love it – adults too.
It’s also really adaptable. Skip the mozzarella if you want a less oozy, stringy affair. Swap Gruyere for Cheddar and Mascarpone for a soft cheese like Philadelphia (let me know what happens if you do this, I’m intrigued – I think it would lose a little something in luxurious flavour but it would still work). When you have this basic recipe down, try adding some cooked broccoli, or fried off bacon, or stir a handful of spinach at the end and baking until browned under a hot grill. I considered mixing chunks of raw salmon fillet into the cold Mac and Cheese later and grilling with more Parmesan on top – but I just didn’t have the energy! In it’s pure and simple state, as a side or on its own, it’s pretty darn special.
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes
350g macaroni pasta
700ml vegetable stock
125g Mascarpone cheese
200g Gruyere, grated
75g Parmesan, grated
125g mozzarella (optional)
- Bring a pan of stock to the boil and add the pasta. Stir often to prevent sticking.
- At about 8 minutes, tip in the grated Gruyere and the mascarpone. Stir to incorporate. Add the parmesan and stir again. You’ll think it’s too saucy at this stage, but the pasta soaks it up, I promise! Now cook, gently, until the pasta is al dente. It will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the torn up mozzarella last of all and stir to melt it in. Don’t season with salt if using a commercial stock as they are very salty anyway. Pepper is fine.
- Eat as is or add extras and place under a hot grill!