In San Francisco I stayed just down the road from an Italian restaurant. To begin with I was a bit put off, as all the dishes seemed to have too much of everything – too much sauce, too much cream, too much cheese; not a bit like Italy. But someone I met in Palermo once told me that the secret of good Italian dishes is ‘esagera’ – put more of everything in – and so it is with this mac ‘n’ cheese recipe. There’s masses of cheese and plenty of smoked bacon.
Equipment: you will need a 35x20cm/14x8in ovenproof dish.
- 100g/3½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100g/3½oz plain flour
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1.2 litres/2 pints full-fat milk
- 75ml/2½fl oz double cream
- 1 bay leaf
- 400g/14oz mature cheddar, grated
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 500g/1lb 2oz dried macaroni
- 100g/3½oz smoked bacon lardons or smoked pancetta cubes
- 60g/2¼oz white breadcrumbs
- 50g/1¾oz Parmesan, grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper