Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mac'n'cheese Challenge: best original recipe

How on earth do you judge the best recipe for macaroni cheese? Should it be a subtle twist on a classic version or something radically different? Should it be comforting and creamy or have a spicy edge? I wouldn’t have believed there were so many different permutations.

For sheer originality it was hard to beat Amuse Bouche's Chocolate with White Chocolate and Lime Cream Cheese not least because he had made his own pasta but the brief did specify that originality meant your version rather than something totally off the wall. Great invention but not a mac!

James of The Cotswold Food Year also made his own macaroni for his luxurious lobster mac which was served in a half lobster shell - the perfect Valentine's Day dinner, he suggested.

Another indulgent entry was Mathilde's Mac'n'Cheese à la Française which included two kinds of mushrooms, white wine and Comté, Mimolette and Gruyère cheese

Garlic Confit did a round-up of the best macs in London in his entry ending up with a version that included sundried tomatoes, cavolo nero, cheddar and alpine cheese and - appropriately enough - lots of garlic.

Meemalee (above) introduced extra crunch and texture with her secret ingredient - a couple of packs of plain potato crisps

While Cheryl of Back Seat Gourmet made hers extra healthy and kid-friendly by sneaking in some puréed squash or pumpkin

By contrast Matt for Food For Friends Yeah! submitted his straight down the line mac'n'cheese with cheddar and honey-roast ham and Wheeling Gourmet went for an all-American version with bacon (above)

Rosie of Salad Club also used ham, pointing out that mac and cheese was a great way of using up the leftovers from a Christmas ham.

Helen of Food Stories went for broke with her 'macaroni cheese for an army', cooking a ham hock specially for her mac then cooking the pasta in the stock (a genius touch). Then she created a super-crispy topping with cheese and panko crumbs.

For others it was beer that was the inspiration. Elly of Pear Café in Bristol submitted her delicious-sounding Macaroni Cheese with Welsh Rarebit topping. using Doombar beer while Lizzie of Hollow Legs used Tanglefoot and caramelised onions in her version (above)

Gin and Crumpets went for a classic British version, drawing on old English cookery books and flavours like bay, nutmeg and mustard

Swedish Mike of Freestyle Cookery gave a Swedish version Makaronilada which is based on an easy-to-make egg and milk custard rather than the classic bechamel.

Several of you felt that macaroni cheese needs a touch of spice including Julie Broczkowski of The Magic Fridge in Ottawa who submitted her Tex Mex version.

For Vickie aka Vix it was a touch of smoked paprika that lifted her macaroni cheese above the ordinary (she also used Red Leicester along with her cheddar

And two entrants went for a Spanish vibe, using Manchego and chorizo: Scott of Scott Can Cook also added a dash of sherry to his Mac N' (Man)Chego (above) while Alex and Carlo of Recession Recipes added sweet and hot paprika and spicy piquillo peppers to theirs (below).

Linda of With Knife and Fork went for a regional British version with her Lancashire Macaroni cheese with Lancashire cheese (obviously) and black pudding

Feast on Scraps by contrast went for a blue cheese (Gorgonzola and Stilton) and broccoli version with fresh Strozzapreti pasta.

Finally a couple of entries from dedicated mac'n'cheese aficionados.

Hilary of We Heart Mac and Cheese entered her Cheese Drawer Mac and Cheese using no less than five different cheeses (Cheddar, Gruyère, Jack, Smoked Gouda and Parmesan), topping it with a scattering of smashed crackers.

And Susan of Food Blogga sent us the tasty Italian Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta and Fontiago she had submitted to a new Wisconsin Macaroni and Cheese Blog which may provide further inspiration if your appetite for mac'n'cheese is not yet sated!

So, some amazing recipes! Thank you all for taking the trouble to take part and for all the time and effort you've put into your entries. I do hope I've included them all. Do mail me if yours has slipped the net or if you find the link to your site isn't working

Cookery writers Xanthe Clay and Marlena Spieler, author of Macaroni and Cheese, will be joining me in the unenviable task of selecting the winning recipe. As I mentioned we didn't manage to persuade Emma Bridgewater to donate her lovely macaroni cheese dish but it seems such an appropriate prize I'm going to get one for you anyway. Good luck!



verity said...

Those all look seriously yummy. I like the idea of including butternut squash - mmmm.

James said...

Cor - some amazing ideas there. It's the chorizo, monchego and sherry that does it for me.

Fiona Beckett said...

Funnily enough the ideas I had for an ultimate mac'n'cheese haven't been used. May have to do one - or two - myself after the comp is over!

kate the bake said...

I read Helen's ham hock mac & cheese recipe a couple of days ago, and really, I keep waking up having dreamt about it. I can't wait to try it, definitely the winner for me!

Jackie said...

Hi Fiona - Had been hoping to enter but time ran away with me. Couldn't have matched some of those gorgeous-sounding dishes. Can't wait to try some of the ideas. Great fun!

Fiona Beckett said...

Have to maintain a neutral stance about specific entries at the moment I'm sure you'll understand ;-) But yes, a lot of great ideas. We could be eating mac'n'cheese for weeks to come . . .

Hilary Havarti said...

Whoa! That is some stiff competition. Fiona, thanks for hosting this contest. Will you be posting all the submitted recipes? Would love to test some of them out for our blog. May the cheesiest mac prevail!

Fiona Beckett said...

'Fraid not, Hilary though thanks for your comments. It took long enough to upload all the images and links! Do give some of the entries a try though

España Local Prensa said...

Sus fabulosas recetas frescas para cada temporada.

Let Me Tell You About Sweden said...

Hi Fiona

Great Blog. I am not a foodie or even a great cook but on reading these entries I was ravenous.

So being in Sweden, I tried Swedish Mike's Macaroni Cheese with a little twist of my own. I can vouch for its tastiness! Yum!

If you click my name you can see some photos of it!

I have just bought your book are going to devastate my waist line as I adore cheese ;-)

Fiona Beckett said...

So glad you like the blog - I liked your step-by-step version of Swedish Mike's recipe. Hope you enjoy the book too - you'll be relieved to know there a a fair number of low - or at least modest - calorie options.

The Happiness Project London said...

Oh my god - this has made me soooo hungry...:) Original, traditional style is the best - the way your school or mum made it! YUMMERS!