Ham-N-Pea Mac-N-Cheese

Ham-N-Pea Mac-N-Cheese

This is one of those rare occasions where I make something savoury. After all the puddings I’ve been making recently I decided to turn my hand to something different. This summer I became obsessed with mac n cheese, probably because pretty much every restaurant I went into had a variation of this dish. From the classic pasta and cheese combo to an… interesting version containing maple syrup and bacon, I can proudly say that I’ve tried lots of these.

When it came down to making my own I improvised a bit. Ham and peas are a beloved couple who work well together in most dishes, and are not strangers to a big bowl of pasta, so there’s no surprise that they also work really well in this. The first time I made this I was surprised that it actually worked – most dishes need a few nips and tucks. But this one was a first-time wonder, and was so easy to make that I’m sure even the most novice of chefs can make themselves a delicious meal with this.

Now many people are going off/ have gone off to uni now, and this is a great cheap one to make once you get there. It’s a classic taste of home, and so if you’re feeling homesick this one is a great comfort. It also freezes really well so if you make too much you can put the rest away for a rainy day, rather than having to throw it away. This also teaches you to make a white sauce, one of the most useful sauces to master as a home cook, and once you can make a white sauce you can make a cheese sauce by simply adding cheese, as in this recipe.

Recipe

Serves 4

Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 300g Macaroni
  • 100g Frozen peas
  • 50g Unsalted butter
  • 50g Plain flour
  • 500ml Milk
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 100g Strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • Pepper to season
  • 4 Thick slices of ham, cut into small pieces
  • 80g Bread crumbs (or bread crusts dried in the oven and then blitzed to crumbs)
  • 50g Parmesan, grated

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the macaroni and cook it to the packets instructions. Leave the pasta in the pan with the water and then add the peas. Cover and leave until needed.
  3. Now make the cheese sauce. Firstly melt the butter in a pan. Then add the flour and mix until a paste forms – this is called a roux. Cook the paste out gently over a medium heat to cook out the flour. Slowly add some of the milk, whisking as you do so that the flour is fully incorporated. Slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking as you do so to make a lump-free sauce. If you feel as though it’s going lumpy and horrible, don’t worry, just persevere and beat the hell out of it with the whisk and everything should be fine.
  4. Whisk the sauce over a medium-high heat until it has thickened. Add the mustard and cheddar to the sauce and then season with pepper to taste. (You can also season the sauce with salt, but the cheese and ham are already quite salty, so you don’t really need to).
  5. Drain the pasta and peas and then add them to the sauce. Add the ham and mix to fully combine.
  6. Pour the pasta mix into an oven-proof container. Top with the breadcrumbs and then with the parmesan. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
  7. Serve warm with a leafy side salad.

Thanks for reading! Any questions or comments don’t hesitate to ask. Next post coming out on Wednesday as always, keep a look out!

Emma x

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