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Macaroni Cheese with Parma ham

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Revisit macaroni and cheese and find out just how glorious it can be. This is an Italian-style mac ‘n’ cheese with Parma ham but you can use cooked ham or Irish bacon, fried pancetta or streak bacon or even smoked salmon instead.

Serves 6 (recipe halves easily)

Ingredients

400g macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
200ml single cream
3 sage or 8 basil leaves, chopped finely
6 slices of Parma ham, torn into pieces
100g Parmesan or Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
600ml béchamel sauce (follow the link and double the recipe)

Instructions

1. Cook the macaroni in boiling water for 8-9 minutes until it is al dente, that is it still has a bit of bite (it will continue to cook in the oven).

2. While the pasta is cooking grease a baking dish with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 400C/200C/Gas Mark 6.

3. Drain the pasta really well. Add the cream, sage or basil leaves, Parma ham, half the cheese and mix together with the béchamel sauce. Spoon into the baking dish and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden on top.

Macaroni Cheese Recipe Note

– This is a dinner party dish – you can make it up in advance, and put it in the oven when your guests arrive. You will need to cook it for 20-30 minutes if the dish is cold when it goes into the oven. Cover it with tin foil until the last ten minutes so the cheese doesn’t burn.

– You can also brown the top under the grill.

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