What a busy time we are all having now ... and only about 9 days left to get everything that needs to be done, done. There's still a few cards to write, though most are winging their way now, and presents to wrap for hand delivering, and then I plan a big cook in this weekend ... yes, still so much to do :))
And talking about cooking, on to this recipe. I could never get the EM to eat macaroni cheese ... he just didn't like it and completely refused. However, at a family gathering recently we were discussing this with Josh, our chef grandson, and we decided the problem is that the EM remembers the tinned (Heinz) variety from his childhood ... pretty yucky stuff and certainly enough to put anyone off their food. Josh suggested he try this rather posh variation which includes the unlikely, but tasty, combination of shredded ham and flaked smoked fish. Result! It's delicious and we've won the EM over, so here it is.
Josh’s Posh Macaroni Cheese Bake(Serves 4)
1 smoked ham shank – in Scotland this is known as a ham hough – cooked in a large pan with enough water to cover. Cool, remove skin and fat, strip meat from bone and break into shreds.
Small fillet of smoked haddock – cooked in milk, strained (reserve the milk for the sauce), cooled and flaked
8oz macaroni – cooked according to the instructions on the packet, strain and return to pan – it should definitely be al dente for this recipe
2 ½ oz butter
6 tbsp plain white flour
1 ½ pints of milk (use reserved milk from cooking the haddock and make this up to the required amount)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of dry mustard powder
8 oz extra mature cheddar cheese, grated
4 large tomatoes, sliced
1 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
For the sauce:
Melt butter in a pan
Add the flour and cook for a minute
Whisk all the milk in at once, bring to boil then simmer for 15 minutes
Stir in two thirds of the grated cheese
Season with salt and pepper
Stir in the mustard powder
Pour sauce over cooked macaroni
Add the shredded ham and stir in the flaked fish and heat through
Butter a large ovenproof dish – I used a lasagne dish – and turn on the grill to high
Pour the macaroni mixture into the dish
Arranged the tomato slices over the top
Mix the leftover grated cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the tomato slices
Place under the hot grill to brown before serving
We ate the macaroni just as it is but a rocket or watercress salad, or even lightly cooked broccoli, would make a nice accompaniment.
Cooking the ham shank does take a bit of time but you can use the cooking liquid and some of the shredded ham as a very good basis for soup, making it worth all the effort. I made a lovely pot of spicy lentil soup with it. If you really can't be bothered then perhaps you some chopped ham would make a perfectly adequate substitute.
Apologies for not being exact with the weight of the fish ... I forgot to weigh the little fillet I used, but believe me it was small. Only a little amount of fish is required.
The recipe feeds four big appetites easily ... we got two meals out of this amount.
I hope some of you will try this recipe, especially if there is a reluctant macaroni cheese eater in the family ... I think they will be pleasantly surprised. And, if you do try it, I hope you will let me know what you thought of it so I can pass your comments on to Josh. He has just started a new job at the Stravaigin2 in Glasgow's West End so we wish him luck and success there. Stravaigin is a great old Scots word meaning to wander or roam around, suggesting that the food/recipes served at the restaurant must be garnered from many places around the world.
Okay, I'd better get back to these Christmas jobs still to be done, not to mention the need to visit a few more WOYWWers blogs today ... I'm running behind on that too.
In the meantime, I wish you all a very good weekend and happy crafting,