In Europe, May is full of delicious holidays that are dotted around the entire month like little nuggets of free time. They’re fantastic, if they play along you get long weekends or can take a day off to fabricate one. If not, well, you get a day in the middle of the week for a lie-in and all those things you never get around to, except shopping. I decided to spend one of them preparing my tax declaration and spring cleaning my house. Alas, I’d misplaced one paper for my taxes and spent the better part of the morning shifting papers from one side to the other in the futile hope it would magically appear somewhere. By lunchtime, I hadn’t done any cleaning yet and was in a foul mood. What better to do than some experimenting with Antxon the Idiazabal cheese? So I made Idiazabal mac & cheese.
If you’re a mac & cheese purist, then this is probably not your dish. The first reason is the cheese – I don’t think Idiazabal and the resulting flavour is your normal mac & cheese fare. The second reason is the recipe, which I based on the Amateur Gourmet’s Easy Mac and Cheese recipe. It does away with the bechamel sauce and I think it does a few other things that aren’t usually done, but as a complete mac & cheese novice, the “easy” in the recipe title really appealed to me. I also tweaked it a little to suit Antxon’s needs, and the fact that I’d forgotten to buy the cream the recipe asks for. The result was very tasty, but also sent me into a food coma that further contributed to making my spring cleaning day rather minimalist on the “cleaning” front. Please don’t make this if you need to be productive afterwards.
Ingredients (1-2 portions)
- two or three handfuls of macaroni or other pasta
- 150g Idiazabal cheese, grated
- 230ml milk or single cream (a mixture of both is probably best)
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Dijon mustard to taste
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of Tabasco sauce
- 1 tsp flour
- 2-3 tsp breadcrumbs
- 2-3 tsp Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cook the macaroni in salted water for 6 minutes (they should still be very al dente). Drain them and pour them into a small oven dish.
Heat the milk/cream/mixture until it boils, but be careful it doesn’t bubble up. Add the onion and garlic, then add the Idiazabal cheese while stirring continuously. Lower the heat a bit, keep stirring. Remember Idiazabal takes a while to melt, so be patient here! My mixture looked disgusting at first and I was getting disheartened, when suddenly something happened and the sauce thickened beautifully. I also added 1 tsp flour, again while stirring continuously, to thicken the sauce a bit more. Stir in a healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and the dijon mustard (probably about 1/2 tsp). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the sauce over the macaroni and top with the Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Place it in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Enjoy, and have a nap afterwards.