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Mac 'n' Cheese

When your doctor tells you to cut down on the greasy ‘cholesterol-ridden’ foods, the appropriate thing to do is cut down on said foods. But doing the appropriate thing isn’t in my blood, we know this! So when my doctor mentioned to me that I have high cholesterol and proceeded to give me a list of things that I should cut down on; My first reaction was 0_O …  then in my head I was thinking ‘this mother fool wants me to avoid butter? and cheese? he must be outside his mind if he thinks I’m only going to eat the whites of an egg.. Smh

So in absolute defiance, I went home and made Macaroni and Cheese, also known as Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I know you’re thinking that I should listen to my doctor, and I will. I think above all else we must look after our bodies, they are after all, the fine and gorgeous vessels we carry around… well at least mine is!

Actually, I was reminded of a story I read the other day about Paula Deen – queen of Southern cooking! She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a while ago. For me, Southern cooking is all about feeding your soul with comfort and in many ways it is cooking food in it’s excesses. It is hard not to love comfort food, but there is a line that must be drawn. Food is not meant to hurt your body, so when it does, you got to eat right folks!

Anyway, here is my Mac ‘n’ Cheese recipe. I did it on the stove top.

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 45g butter
• 3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
• 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• 6 fresh bay leaves
• 1 litre semi-skimmed milk
• 600g dried macaroni
• 8 tomatoes
• 150g freshly grated Cheddar cheese
• 100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
optional: a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce
• optional: a grating of nutmeg
• 3 big handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
• olive oil

Get a large pan of salted water on the boil.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour and turn the heat up to medium, stirring all the time, until you get a paste – this is your roux.

Add all the sliced garlic – don’t worry about the amount because each slice will caramelise in the roux. Keep cooking and stirring until golden. Add the bay leaves and slowly whisk in the milk (I used skimmed milk) a little at a time to ensure you get a nice smooth sauce.

Bring the mixture to the boil, then leave it on a low heat to simmer, stirring occasionally.

Add the pasta to the pan of boiling salted water and cook according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes on a board and season them well with salt and pepper – the doctor would be happy with that one!

Drain the pasta and add it immediately to the sauce. Give it a good stir and take the pan off the heat.

Stir in your grated cheeses, chopped tomatoes and thyme leaves, if you can’t find fresh thyme leaves, dried work fine too.

Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of nutmeg. Taste it and season it. Cover and leave for 10-15minutes. If you want to use your oven, throw the pot in at 170°C for 10-15minutes.
While it’s cooking, put your breadcrumbs and thyme into a pan with a few drizzles of olive oil over a medium heat. Stir and toss the crumbs around until crunchy and golden all over. Try not to leave it for too long, or you’ll burn it, like I did. But I was too hungry to make another batch:)

Serve up the mac ‘n’ cheese with the breadcrumbs sprinkled on top. I also served it with a salad.