Mac & Cheese - Spuntino

"Whether you call it Mac & Cheese (US) or Macaroni Cheese (UK), this is one of the world’s supreme comfort dishes. President Thomas Jefferson famously served it at a White House banquet in 1802, and it has seen a remarkable return to gastronomic favour in the early years of the twenty-first century. At SPUNTINO we present our Mac & Cheese in individual cast-iron pans, served piping hot straight from the oven. We have held competitions for the longest strings of melted cheese from pan to mouth; the combination of Parmesan, Fontina and mozzarella makes for some seriously stretchy forkfuls." Russell Norman, Spuntino.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 250g macaroni pasta
  • Fine salt
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 450ml double cream
  • 175g grated Parmesan
  • 250g grated mozzarella – the hard, cheap kind
  • 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 leeks
  • 25g butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • 75g panko breadcrumbs 
  • 85g grated Fontina

Method

Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil, add the pasta and some fine salt, and stir. When the water boils again, turn down to a medium heat and follow the instructions on the packet, usually simmering for around 11 minutes. Drain when al dente.

Once cooled, transfer the drained pasta to a large mixing bowl and add the milk, the double cream, 125g of the Parmesan, half of the mozzarella and the Dijon mustard. Mix together thoroughly and leave to soak for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, trim the leeks by removing and discarding the green tops and the roots, and finely chop. Wash the chopped leeks thoroughly to get rid of any grit. Place a medium pan over a low heat, melt the butter and very gently sweat the leeks with the garlic, 4 large pinches of flaky sea salt and a good pinch of black pepper. After about 10 minutes the leeks will have a translucent, glossy appearance. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Once the leeks have cooled, drain off any lingering fluid and add them to the soaking pasta.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining Parmesan and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Add the grated Fontina and the remaining mozzarella to the pasta mixture and combine well. Transfer the mix to a large baking dish or six individual dishes and cover with the breadcrumb and Parmesan mix. Bake in the preheated oven till golden brown and bubbling, for 25–30 minutes if using one large dish, or 15–20 minutes if using individual dishes.

Extract take from SPUNTINO by Russell Norman (Bloomsbury, £25.00)