Teaching my kids to cook: Macaroni Cheese

Recently I’ve been teaching my kids to cook. I figure I’m equipping them with the life skills they may need if they ever choose to leave home. There’s every chance Ollie may live here for ever, still climbing into bed with me and the cat every morning until the day I die, but we live in hope.

A few nights ago, Melie made macaroni cheese for dinner, which she loves. The main benefit of learning how to make macaroni cheese is the need to make a bechamel sauce. Once your children have this mastered, you open up a world of dishes. In this version, we added the flour to the bacon and onion in fat they’d been cooked in, which reduced the risk of the sauce going lumpy once the milk was added.

Anyway, give it a go with your kids. Feel free to add your own spin with extra herbs, different meats (shredded chicken would work) and cheeses (parmesan would make this a bit more sophisticated). You could also top this with panko or bread crumbs, although I didn’t.

MACARONI CHEESE

500g tubular pasta (I used penne)
50g butter
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheese, plus extra for topping (I used a combination of tasty cheddar and mozarella)
salt/pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC.
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2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add dried pasta and cook for as long as the packet says. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water to prevent pasta overcooking, and set aside while you prepare the cheese sauce.

 

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3. Chop onions and bacon
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4. Melt butter in a heavy based, oven proof pan over a moderate heat. Add onions and bacon and cook, stirring, until onions are soft and translucent.
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5. Sprinkle flour over the cooked bacon and onion, and stir to combine. Cook for one minute, then slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to remove any lumps, until the sauce has thickened. Add cheese, and stir to combine. Cook until cheese is melted, adding a little more milk if the sauce becomes too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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6. Add the pasta to the sauce, stir to combine. Sprinkle extra grated cheese over the top. If you want to use a different baking dish, or individual dishes, you could transfer the mixture now, and then top with cheese before baking.
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7. Put the dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown.
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8. Remove from oven and serve!

 

 

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