A couple of weeks back I was lucky enough to get an invite to Alex James and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival back on the August bank holiday and amongst the seemingly hundreds of food stalls that offer everything from Pad Thai to Pie and Mash, there was a stand there (Annie Mae’s Mac n Cheese) that got me craving this cheesy carby treat, and I thought it was about time to share another recipe with you.
I can’t write this post without giving the festival a shout out – I was only there for the Friday but wish I could have stayed longer! Primarily it’s a food festival, so all the food on offer – from Pad Thai and Paella to Fish Finger sandwiches and Falafel – is absolutely delicious! I managed to work my way through 5 or 6 different stalls (with the help of my family) and can honestly say that everything we tried was gorgeous. Throw in the cocktail stands from Fever Tree, Belvoir & The Shack Revolution and I don’t think I can complain about anything!
Food and drinks aside, the festival is fantastic, especially for families – the line up has artists for everyone (we caught Norman Jay, Foxes and a Jamie Oliver DJ set!) and there are numerous tents with activities for little ones (although I’m not sure who had more fun in the Play-Doh tent, my 3 year old nephew or me…) to keep them busy. I really can’t recommend the event enough and yes, although we were spoilt with the good weather, the risk of rain hasn’t put me off wanting to go back next year! Check out the website for updates here.
Anyway, enough rambling! I’ve been having troubles with eating certain dairy foods for a while now and through process of elimination suspect a lactose intolerance – for this reason everything below was made with Lactofree ingredients. However this could easily be replaced with ‘normal’ ingredients – I’d even add some parmesan or gruyère if you can eat these to add to the cheesy flavour of the sauce.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
1 Onion, very finely sliced
150g Pancetta, diced
60g Plain Flour
Whole Milk (Semi Skimmed can be used
200g Mature Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 Tsp Wholegrain Mustard
Salt & Pepper, for seasoning
Place the macaroni in a pan full of boiling water, add some salt and cook according to packet instructions.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, melt a knob of butter in a large frying pan and fry the onions on a medium heat until they are golden brown and starting to caramelise. When they are nicely caramelised, add the pancetta to the pan and continue to fry until this is cooked and crispy, stirring continuously to avoid anything burning. Once done, remove from the heat and leave to one side.
In a medium sized sauce pan, add the butter and once melted, add the plain flour 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well and only adding the next tablespoon once the flour is incorporated.
*It’s important for the next part to taste and season the sauce as you go along!
When you have a smooth paste, gradually add the milk in – 1 cup at a time – stirring continuously, adding the next cup once your sauce has started to thicken. Once all the milk is added and you have a thick bubbling sauce, add 3/4 of the cheese along with the onions, pancetta and macaroni and stir until everything is evenly coated in the cheesy sauce.
Transfer to a 28cm oven proof dish and top with the remaining grated cheese. Pop in the oven until golden brown and bubbling (about 40 minutes).
Serve with salad (and garlic bread for an extra treat) and enjoy!