Straight-up macaroni cheese recipe by Laura Goodman

I’ve eaten a lot of macaroni cheese. There are recipes out there that do things like use cottage cheese instead of sauce, insist that cheddar needs help from obscure French friends, or allow only 37g of macaroni per person. For a classic macaroni cheese you can count on, you need to stand over a large pot of bechamel and personally load it with cheddar and some key accessories.

Serves 5-6
macaroni 500g
unsalted butter 100g, plus 3 tbsp for the top
plain flour 75g
milk 1.2 litres
mature cheddar cheese 275g, grated, plus 50g for the top
English mustard 1 tbsp
nutmeg ½ tsp, freshly grated
breadcrumbs 50g
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6 and get some salted water boiling for the macaroni.

Cook the macaroni for 2 minutes less than the packet indicates, drain it and leave it to one side, keeping back half a ladle of pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the 100g of butter over a medium heat. When it’s melted, add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and beautifully beige. Add the milk bit by bit (about 100ml at a time). It’ll take you on a whole journey, thickening up before it smooths back out again. All you have to do is keep stirring. Switch to a whisk if it helps. Once you’ve added all the milk, keep the sauce on the heat and stir through the cheese, followed by the mustard and nutmeg, and then salt and pepper to taste.

Add the macaroni to the sauce, along with the pasta water, and stir until even. Tip this straight into a wide, shallow oven dish, using a flexible spatula to get to all the sauce.

Melt the extra butter and mix it with the extra cheese and the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle this mix over the macaroni cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown all over.

From Carbs by Laura Goodman (Quadrille, £15)