If there’s one foodstuff that has helped mould my identity it’s cheese (there’s a pun in there) I’m a true turophile – hard, crumbly, soft, veiny, spreadable, blue, melted, any way it comes – I LOVE CHEESE. However, in a cruel twist of fate I’m also intolerant of cow’s milk – something that’s gotten worse again as I’ve gotten older and seems to be particularly triggered by the good stuff, namely nice cool glasses of milk, sauces made with cream, and, my enduring first love, CHEESE.
Never to be defeated I indulge my habit when I can by concentrating my cheese munching efforts on goat and ewe varieties, which have the added bonus of tending to be lower in fat. Unfortunately, most people who are allergic to cow’s milk will also be allergic to goat and sheep milk, however, I do seem to tolerate them better. And, when I’m feeling really naughty and just can’t help myself, I go a bit wild and eat some mature cheddar and brace myself for the consequences. Cheese is a very beautiful thing and is without a doubt my favourite food and not being able to eat mass amounts of the most common kind has forced me to be more creative in the kitchen. This recipe was borne out of a deep and unquieting yearning to indulge in an old food favourite – macaroni cheese. The photo’s really don’t do justice to this cheesy carborific treat,. I included a small amount of the hard ewe’s cheese pecorino in both the sauce and topping of my mac and cheese to intensify the flavour, but you can leave it out if you want to keep things soft and creamy.
Recipe (serves 6)
500g pasta (I used a mix of wholewheat and white conchigle)
six thick rashers of bacon
two cloves of garlic
two teaspoons dried thyme
wholewheat dried breadcrumbs
one beef tomato
300g goat’s cheese log
100g pecorino (grated)
700 ml soya milk
lump of sunflower margarine
two level tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to season
two tablespoons dijon mustard
Stage one: Pasta perfect
There’s no pretending this recipe is good for you, but throwing some wholewheat pasta into the mix made me feel like I was at least trying to compromise. I boiled up 250g of white and brown pasta shells with a pinch of salt and drained before tipping into a ceramic lasagne dish. I chose conchigle instead of macaroni as it’s easier to get hold of the wholewheat variety of the former and the shells keep lots of lovely cheesy sauce inside them once baked.
Stage two: Garlic+Bacon=Barlic or Gacon?
This meal was a real treat so I used a whole packet of thick bacon roughly chopped and cooked with the two cloves of garlic sliced. This made the bacon nice and garlicky and the garlic nice and salty (yuuuum!) I didn’t add fat to fry my bacon and drained off the fat in the pan afterwards (again doing my best to be good).
Stage three: Bulletproof goat’s cheese sauce (made with La Roux)
I used a hefty amount of flour in my roux as I was afraid the soya milk wouldn’t thicken well and I knew the goat’s cheese would mask any flour flavour. After adding my soya milk gradually to the pan I stirred in the mustard and melted in my 300g of goat’s cheese, which I chopped into chunks.
I cut some (but not all) of the rind off, which is why there are a few visible chunks in the photo on the right. The rind itself melted away once the mac went into the oven to bake. I also added to the sauce around a third of the pecorino, some salt and a good hard dose of cracked black pepper.
Stage four: Crusty crumb
After mixing the bacon and sauce through the pasta (above) it was time to assemble for baking. I sliced the beef tomato and laid it flat across the top of the mac and cheese (extra vitamins right there) and coated the top in a mix from the remaining pecorino, dried thyme and breadcrumbs. I then baked for 20 minutes at 200C and voila!
I made this when a few friends were over to stop me going on a huge cheese binge all at once, but it’s so deliciously rich (as mac n cheese should be) just a small portion with a green salad is seriously satisfying!