Mac n Cheese With A Smokey Twist

Mac n cheese dish

My daughter’s best friend came for lunch today and as I was wondering what sandwich to make (cheddar cheese or PB&J), I realized that I all too frequently resort to giving my three-year-old a sandwich for lunch. Yes, I alternate the fillings. And, yes, I add cherry tomatoes/fruit/avocado on the side. But it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut.

And besides, I didn’t really want my daughter’s bestie going home and telling her mum – cos three-year-old girls tell their mums (sorry, moms! You can take the girl out of the UK…) everything – that she’d had a sandwich at my house for lunch AGAIN.

The fridge was fairly empty, bar the basics. And this is where this absolute American Classic comes into its own. You can keep it simple with the basic ingredients most households have in stock. Or you can jazz it up with bacon, breadcrumbs, truffle, fancy cheese, the list goes on…

You probably have your own, better, version than mine. But just in case you don’t, here’s my offering…

mac n cheese sadie


1oz (25g) flour

1oz (25g) butter

1 cup (1/2 pint) of milk. I used two per cent as that is all I had in. I would steer clear of anything less. Full fat is preferable.

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons heavy cream

8oz (200g) of mature white cheddar cheese plus extra for grating on top

Couple pinches of salt and pepper


Boil your macaroni in salted water. I only had a pack of small penne in my cupboard but it was a similar size to macaroni.

Make a roux by melting the butter over a medium heat. Once melted add the flour and keep stirring until it looks dry. At this point add the paprika and stir for another minute.

Next, little by little, add the milk. Keep stirring. Once all the milk is added you should have a fairly thick consistency that nicely coats the back of the spoon. If you feel it is too thick, add some more milk.

Allow to simmer for a few minutes then take off the heat. At this point stir in the cream, and once mixed in, add the cheddar. Continue to stir until the cheddar has melted into the sauce.

Taste. Add salt if needed and a few twists of black pepper.

Combine the sauce and the macaroni and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Grate extra cheddar over the top.

Place under the broiler (grill – UK) for around 5-10 mins or until golden brown, crisp and bubbling.


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