Crispy prosciutto macaroni and cheese


 
Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping
Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping
Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping
Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping
Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping
Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping
Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping

A few weeks ago, I had a prosciutto situation. We don't eat a huge amount of it, but every now and then we buy it for a kickass pesto-burrata-pesto-pizza situation. I tend to buy it freshly sliced, and up until recently I had bought it at whole foods. There's this awful woman who works there, who would easily win the award for slowest prosciutto slicer in the world. The first time I encountered her I had just come from the gym, and she hit me with "Oh, so you just went to the gym, and now you're buying prosciutto? Ok then. Whatever works for you", then proceeded to take the longest time in the world to slice me a quarter pound of the stuff. Not impressed. 

My second encounter (This is the most boring story ever), I did the usual, asked for a quarter pound, then started to wait. She said to me "If you have any other shopping to do, you could do it now and come back, because this is going to take a while". Judging from the last experience I took her word for it, did the rest of my shopping, and came back to find she had mis-heard me and cut one and a quarter pounds of prosciutto. It was a MOUNTAIN. And because I am too chicken to say anything, I took it from her, and hid it in the back of the fridge for fear of Rich judging me and my terrible track record of standing up for myself. 

So clearly, the only thing to do with it was to eat it! We had two pizza nights, and only made a tiny dent in pork mountain. The only option I had left was to put it into something that Rich inhales: Mac and cheese. Turns out if you pan fry prosciutto, it goes amazingly crispy, which is the perfect addition to mac and cheese! I used a mixture of cheddar cheese and mozzarella for this one, which added a nice stringy-ness, although you can really go ahead and use whatever cheese you like. This is the ultimate comfort food, something that friends often request when they are coming around for dinner. It is easy to make ahead - prepare it up to the stage where it is ready for the oven, then store in the fridge until ready to bake. Leftovers also heat up perfectly. 

I made this in four individual cocottes, which works perfectly for us because I suck at sharing. A 9x9 baking dish would also work too. 

 

 

Crispy Prosciutto macaroni and cheese
- Serves 4-6 people -

1/4 lb (115g) prosciutto
11oz (300g) medium pasta shells
4 Tbsp (60g) butter
4 Tbsp (36g) flour
3 cups (730ml) milk
5 oz (140g) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 oz (140g) mozzarella cheese, grated
4 oz (120g) parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup (25g) panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup (55g) regular bread crumbs

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat oven to 400˚f/200˚c. In a frying pan over medium to high heat, fry the prosciutto slices until crispy. Remove and leave to cool. Roughly chop and set aside. 

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain and set aside. 

While the pasta is cooking, in a large pot over high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and, stirring constantly, cook until foamy. Continue to cook for a further 30 seconds - 1 minute. Turn the heat to low and, whisking constantly, slowly add the milk. Return the heat to high and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. Season well with salt and pepper. 

Remove the sauce from the heat, and add the cheddar, mozzarella and half the parmesan cheese. Stir well until the cheese has melted and the sauce is homogenous. Taste and season again if necessary. Add the cooked pasta and chopped prosciutto to the pot, and stir well to combine. Pour into baking dish / dishes. 

Combine the panko breadcrumbs, regular breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the surface of the pasta. 

Place the baking dish on a baking sheet, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving. 

Crispy prosciutto mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping

Oven fries with truffle aioli


 
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Another truffle recipe! While we used most of the truffle on the pasta, there was still a teeny bit left! I had a truffle aioli a long time ago and it was BOMB. Truffle fries are fairly common - they tend to be parmesan and truffle oil They are pretty awesome too. But there's something about fresh truffle in aioli that really makes me get excited. This is no different really. We have been eating this aioli for a few years now, so I figured it was only polite to share it with you, as it really deserves to be out in the open! I have yet to find a nice Jar aioli here in america, and find that making my own tends to be way quicker and easier, not to mention way more tasty!

 I use a stick blender to make aioli, and to be honest I don't even bother with slowly adding the oil in order to help it emulsify - I just dump all the ingredients in, hit it with the stick blender, then taste and adjust if necessary. I find the stick blender the best way to make aioli - I only like to make a little bit at a time, meaning the food processor is too big, and my blender tends to get too excited and heats it up too much as it is blending, which causes it to split. I have totally also made it by hand before, which takes a lot of whisking, but in a pinch, is still totally worth it. If you make it by hand, add the oil a tablespoon at a time, whisking hard, until it starts to emulsify, then slowly trickle the oil in. 

I added fresh truffle to this aioli, but it would be just as nice with truffle oil - sub out a tablespoon of the regular oil for truffle oil. It is also amazing without the truffle, which is how we usually eat it - if you are leaving out the truffle, add in a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. It's just the best, in all of it's forms. You can add herbs to it, use roasted garlic, the list goes on. 

And then there are fries. I never thought I could make super crispy delicious oven fries until I came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. And now we are hooked. They are perfect as a side for burgers, or just as their own with gravy. I usually use Russet or Idaho potatoes, and generally use one per person, which makes it super easy to scale. The trick to the perfect fries is cooking them twice - you boil them until they are just beginning to cook, then pop them in the oven on high heat to finish off and make them amazing and crispy. I loaded these ones up with parmesan, which complimented the truffle aioli perfectly. 

Whatever form you choose to make the aioli, you should make this. It's the best. 

 

 

Oven fries with truffle aioli
- Serves 3-4 -

Fries recipe from Smitten Kitchen 

Fries
3-4 medium Idaho or russet potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Flaky salt for finishing
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Truffle Aioli
1 medium egg
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
freshly shaved truffle to taste, or 1 Tbsp truffle oil
1 cup neutral oil such as rice bran, canola, or sunflower

Note: If you are not making the truffle version of the aioli, add in a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, and increase the lemon to the juice of one lemon. 

- PROCESS -

FRIES

Preheat the oven to 450˚f / 230˚c. 

Peel potatoes, and cut into one inch wide fries. Place into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Turn the element to high, and cover the pot with a lid. Cook the fries for 10 minutes, removing from the heat once the 10 minutes is up (They may not necessarily come to a boil). During the last few minutes of cooking time, add 3 Tbsp oil to a baking sheet, and place in the oven to heat the oil.

Once the potatoes have reached their 10 minutes, strain through a colander. Place onto the preheated baking tray, and toss lightly to coat in oil, adding more if necessary. Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt. 

Bake the fries for 30-35 minutes, checking and tossing every 5 minutes after the 20 minute mark to ensure that they are evenly golden. 

Remove from the oven, season well with salt, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 

TRUFFLE AIOLI

Stick blender method: Place all ingredients in a stick blender friendly container. Blend on high, moving the end of the blender up and down the container to help combine ingredients, until thick and emulsified. Taste and adjust salt / lemon levels if necessary. 

Blender method: Place egg, salt, lemon juice and truffle in a high powered blender, and pulse to combine. Turn the power onto medium, and slowly drizzle the oil into the blender in a very fine stream, until the aioli begins to emulsify. Add the remainder of the oil slowly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. 

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Herb and Garlic smashed potatoes


 

It's our first Christmas with Just us. And while I am SO excited to be starting our own traditions and all that carry on, part of me is kiiiiind of nervous for Christmas dinner. You know those things that you never really learn to do because your parents always do them? (Like carving a chicken, which I curse myself for not learning to do every time I have to because it was always Dad's job). Christmas dinner is one of those for me. Mum has always organised the menu effortlessly, and I am always just happy to be told what to help with. Mum is so so good at it (she planned and catered our 185 person wedding like it was no biggie at all), that I normally just roll with it. 

This year however, I am panicking a little. Although it won't be too many of us, just a motley crew in NYC, I still think it's so important to do it properly! This year we will be doing a hot ham, mac and cheese (because why not), a few sides, and smashed potatoes. I think thats enough? I will probably panic and add loads more stuff to the list later which will end up in way too much food and leftovers for days, but I can definitely deal with this. 

I came across smashed potatoes on the internet the other night when I was making dinner and hadn't left enough time to roast the potatoes whole (classic me move). You take little potatoes, boil them until they are just tender, then squash them on a baking sheet, snuggle them up with some herbs and garlic, season well and roast them in the oven until they are nice and crispy on the outside.

And oh man. They are SO GOOD, and would make the perfect Christmas side! They could also be very easily scaled - I used 450g/1 lb of baby potatoes, but you could adjust this for however many you are needing to feed. They are also something that could be prepared ahead - you could boil the potatoes, and leave them whole until you are ready to cook, then just smash them on the tray and roast when you need them. I used a fair amount of garlic, along with rosemary and sage, but any herbs or spices would work!

 

 

Herb and Garlic Smashed Potatoes
- Serves 4, as a side -

450g (1 lb) baby potatoes
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed with the back of a knife
Olive Oil to coat the pan
A few sprigs of fresh Rosemary
5-6 sage leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper for seasoning
 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 475f/250c. Coat a baking tray with a thin layer of olive oil. 

Rinse the potatoes, and place in a large pot. Cover with water, and bring to the boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when poked with a sharp knife or skewer. Drain and place onto the prepared baking tray. 

Roll the potatoes around so that they have a thin coating of oil, adding more if necessary. Using a potato masher or the palm of your hand (be careful if they are hot), squash the potatoes so that it sits flat on the tray. Move each potato slightly after squashing it so that it can move around on the tray without sticking.

Arrange the garlic and herbs around the potatoes. Season well with salt and pepper. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden and crispy. Serve immediately.