Macaroni Cheese with Smoked Boar Belly… and Boys Night

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It’s boy’s night at our little abode. No, not the type of boys night where we sit around playing cards, drinking whiskey a eating nachos that are served to us by a waitress who can best be described as looking like she has just come from the beach… wearing high heels. This is the kind of boys night where is it just me and my two boys, Seba and Obi, and we hang out, watch quite a few episodes of “The Clone Wars” animated series and eat whatever the hell we want (usually not served to us by scantily clad waitresses) that is definitely not in accordance with or following any of the dietary requirements of Jennee’s gluten intolerance or paleo diet. We are sans mother and wife, and by golly we will do whatever the eff we want. We are man, hear us roar!

“Meow”.

Yeah, you get the picture.

Boys night’s are high on the list of things that make me happy. These nights make me so happy that even my smile smiles. My smile actually texts it’s friends to tell them how fucking happy it is right now. What more could a man need? Quality time catching up on cartoons, sitting around in my knickers, eating a pile of “sometimes food” and spending time with my damn fine kids.

Today I was hell bent on cooking up some mac n cheese, but the local store was void of the macaroni my heart so desired. So, with nary a hat wearing, feather doting Yankee with the magical ability to conjure up my macaroni in sight, I thought my next best option was going to be penne. So penne it was (although with hind sight I would say there is really no substitute for the macaroni). Also, I had a heap of smoked wild boar belly in the freezer (this came into my possession via the same source of the goat I used for that goat curry I posted not so far in the past. I think I should clarify that it did not come from the actual goat, as that would make it cross bred billy goat/razor back which is going to freak me out and remain barren of any votes from me. No, this boar was merely provided by the same supplier I got my goat from. I need to end this ever-so-pointless story right now), and boar is kindred to the pig so that was going to get it’s smoky ass in there, too.

A nice looking lump of smoked boar
A nice looking lump of smoked boar

The smell of this stuff cooking made me go a little week at the knees
The smell of this stuff cooking made me go a little week at the knees
Nom nom nom
Nom nom nom

SMOKED BOAR BELLY MAC N CHEESE with penne (for 4)

400g smoked wild boar belly, bacon or speck, sliced into lardons
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 cup grated honky dory tasty or cheddar cheese, plus 1 cup extra to top
2 tablespoons of your favourite mustard (I used that cheap American ball park stuff, but Dijon would be the goods)
1lt milk
50g flour
50g butter
400g dried macaroni (yeah, I know it’s almost a full packet but that extra 100g is that little bit too much), cooked per packet instructions and refreshed
A large handful parsley, chopped
Chopped spinach, kale or frozen peas if you need to get some greenery in there

• Fry the lardons over medium heat for 5 minutes, until browned and simmering in a pool of their own rendered fat. Discard most of the rendered fat or, if you’re keen, save it in the fridge for next time you roast potatoes. Let’s get that stuff in the fridge, eh? Put the lardons aside while you get the rest ready
• To make a béchamel sauce (white sauce. Like what you use for cauliflower cheese) first melt butter in a saucepan over med-low heat. Add flour and cook out for a couple of minutes (to get rid of the raw floury taste), stirring constantly. While stirring slowly add milk until you have a smooth, sauce-like constancy. If it doesn’t end up nice and smooth, get some whisk action onto it and beat those damn lumps into submission. Add cheeses and mustard and stir to combine
• Add the lardons, pasta and parsley and combine
• Transfer to baking dish, top with extra cheese and bake in 180C oven for 30-35 minutes. You want it bubbling and golden so don’t be afraid to chuck it back in the oven for another few minutes and even turn it up a little to get the result
• A nice little leafy salad is probably a pretty good accompaniment. That and the company of your favourite kids (hopefully the fact that they’re your favourite kids alone should mean they’re yours, but if not soz… just soz)

If you have some left overs the next day feel free to slice it into squares, crumb it up and deep fry the crap out of them for tasty fried mac n cheese bites a la Paul’s Caul.

Paul’s Caul… Cheesy fucking goodness. That’s right, I said fucking

Cheesy Effing Goodness

There has been a renaissance of late as far as comfort food on menus, and by comfort food I mean food from your childhood that warms not only your belly but also the cockles of your heart. By no means does comfort food reflect how the food feels when worn as clothing, this would be a rookie mistake that I believe would end in the polar opposite of comfort.

This new wave of dishes has come at us in the form of sliders, nacho’s, Reuben’s, chicken Parma’s, cheese fries and to be honest I love it all, who wouldn’t? I’ll tell you who, people that haven’t tried them… because all of this artery clogging, cheese encrusted goodness is delicious, it’s not subtle or refined but fuck it nor am I and I’m also delicious (if I do say so myself)

But without a doubt my favourite of this genre is the ‘Mac & Cheese’ the granddaddy of cheese based dishes, this dish has been done in every which way possible and is just at home on a fine dining menu as it is being served by a buck sum whench in the local tavern. Its simply pasta and cheese but to allow more cheese to be injected into you, a sauce is made and cheese is added to that then pasta is tossed through it and finally more cheese is layered over the top, of course you could deconstruct the shit out of this dish and create some absurd dish…
“Ravioli filled with Nepalese midget churned cheese served on a bed of brioche crumbs with 1000 year old salt from the lost world of Atlantis”

But this dish definitely doesn’t need to be fucked with that much… by all means change up the cheeses that go in and the kind of pasta but keep the essence of the dish true to its ridiculously unhealthy and delightful beginnings.

Sometimes trying to be healthy when making comfort food is quite simply wrong, it detracts from the point, it can start to remove fun from the process and definitely from the flavour. So all you health nuts out there just chill the fuck out put your almonds down for just one second and get some cheese into you.

In the words of my good friend Carla Da Bruce…

“Its like going to see a whore for a cuddle” you will get it, but at what price?

Wise words there kiddies…

Here’s how I made my Mac & cheese the other night…

Mac & Cheese
50g butter
50g plain flour
250ml milk
250ml cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 ¼ cup grated parmesan (something real not that shit in a green shaker)
1 cup grated cheddar (a nice bitey one)
1 ¼ cup grated mozzarella
100g stilton cheese
¼ cup torn basil leaves
½ cup breadcrumbs (make your own, you know how by now or use panko crumbs, you get them in a shop J)
2cups of macaroni pasta (follow instructions on packets and cook this then chill under cold water and set to one side)

• In a medium sized pot melt the butter and stir in the flour, this is a roux, cook whilst stirring for a minute
• Now slowly and on a low heat add the liquid gradually making sure to get all lumps out, then add the Dijon
• Cook this on low heat until it thickens slightly, it may only take 2 minutes or so
• Now slowly add 1 cup of each of the cheese and all of the stilton cheese, stirring as you go, continue stirring until all the cheeses have melted
• In another bowl mix the remaining cheeses ( ¼ cup parmesan and ¼ cup mozzarella) with the bread crumbs
• Now mix the cheese sauce around the cooked off pasta, add the basil leaves and check to see if it needs any seasoning (most likely will need pepper and not much salt)
• Spread this mixture into an oven proof dish with high sides, sprinkle top with the cheesy crumb mix and bake in an oven until its brown and delicious
• How hot should the oven be? I reckon you guys can work that out all by your self’s, and if you can’t just eat the mix

Feel free to add bacon, ham, tuna, corn, peas, asparagus, zucchini… the list just goes on and on, as this shit makes every thing taste good.

You can do individual serve in small oven dishes you can fill vegetables with the mix and bake them, in fact I reckon you could use the mix to put wall paper up… how’s that shit for versatile… take that rice!