Cauli Mac-N-Cheese, as seen on ITV!

Photo courtesy of ITV This Morning, October 2014.

Photo courtesy of ITV This Morning, October 2014.

This is part mac ‘n’ cheese, part cauliflower cheese, and deliciously golden and moreish with some crispy bacon thrown in for good measure. Baking it at the end to melt the cheese isn’t essential, but oh, it’s so good. It’s a quicker method than the traditional ‘melt some butter and flour to make a roux then thin with a little milk’ – but with pretty much the same end results. You know me, I like to keep things simple, but if the thought of not making a ‘real white sauce’ distresses you, then melt a tablespoon of butter over a low heat with a scant level tablespoon of flour, mix well to form a thick paste, thin with a little milk, stir until smooth, add more milk, toss in the cheese, melt, and remove from the heat and set to one side until you need the saucy bit. I find (personally) that the eggs thicken the mixture and a good whack in the oven finishes it off, but hey, there’s many roads up the mountain to a perfect mac n cheese. I just don’t like to make more washing up than I absolutely have to, and let’s face it, pasta in a cheesy sauce is hardly haute cuisine…

Serves 4:
300g short pasta, like penne, or macaroni
2 tbsp oil 200g cauliflower, grated or broken into small florets
200g bacon, chopped 2 eggs 200ml milk Black pepper 100g hard, strong cheese, grated

Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and reduce to a simmer according to packet instructions, usually around 8 minutes, to cook and soften.

Meanwhile, gently heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the grated cauliflower and bacon. You can finely slice the cauli instead of grating it, but the key is to get it into little pieces so it cooks quickly. If you have a decent blender, you can fling it in raw to pulse it to a fine grain – you’ll lose the ‘cauli cheese’ element of the dish, but save yourself some chopping. (Incidentally, raw cauli flung in a blender and pulsed to a fine grain makes a great alternative to bulghur wheat or similar in a tabbouleh salad, that Ottolenghi chap does a marvellous one…)

Back to the mac! In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to bring it to a warmish temperature (so it doesn’t turn to startled scrambled eggs when you pop it in the oven) and beat in.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add to the pan with the cauliflower and bacon. Pour in the egg mixture and mix through.
Tip the lot into an ovenproof baking dish, top with the grated cheese and bake for 12-15 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the cheese is golden and crispy. And serve! And enjoy! And all that jazz.

Recipe adapted from A Year In 120 Recipes by Jack Monroe, published by Penguin and available to order here. To watch the shy and nervous clip on ITV Player, click here.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell, from A Year In 120 Recipes by Jack Monroe.

Photography by Susan Bell, from A Year In 120 Recipes by Jack Monroe.

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Categories: Blog, NEWS, Recipes & Food

17 Comments »

  1. Just became a fan of Jack, saw her a few years ago and because I wasn’t computer savvy, didn’t know she was conquering the world the way she is. Well done girl, love who your doing, love your out look and wish you even more success X

  2. I didn’t see the programme, but my Year in 120 Recipes book arrived today and that was what I chose to cook from it. I’ve just had it for tea, lovely!
    You mention baking it in this blog entry but in the book the cauli mac instructions are to shove it under the grill.
    I was a bit dubious about the raw eggs not cooking in just a few mins under the grill, even in a shallow dish, so I heated mine through on the stove top after combining pasta, egg/milk and fried cauliflower /bacon so that the egg was at least lightly cooked, then tipped it all in the dish, sprinkled the cheese and banged it under the grill for five minutes. Perfect results.

    My review of the book, five stars, is already up on Amazon. 😀

  3. Made this tonight. Grating cauli is genius if a little messy (bits pinging off in all directions but maybe that is my grating skills). Had a lonely leek so added that and breadcrumbs with the cheese on top.
    Eggs make it light and fluffy instead of the usual gloopy mac and cheese consistency – a winner thanks

  4. Hope you post this comment, cos it’s important I think, and my last one wasn’t posted, please don’t take offence, In the book you advocate using the grill to finish off but that means the raw eggs aren’t necessarily cooked. Pleased you changed the grill browning to the oven for the blog. I cooked the mix on the stove top and it was fine. The book is great btw,

  5. saw this on ITV the day after I joined Slimming World. I substituted the milk and cheese, replacing it with fat free cottage cheese (blitz in the wizzer) and 45g reduced fat cheese. I used bacon medallions with the fat removed and cut up instead of streaky. this is my new all time fav dish EVER! thanks Jack, you are epically awesome 🙂

  6. Love this! My mum used to make this when we were kids, she used to put broccoli in it too. I now make it for my 1 year old!

  7. just made this for Sunday lunch for a posse of cauli-loathers (including me!). Absolutely divine, thanks Jack 🙂

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