MEATBALL MAC ‘N CHEESE
Jazz up your macaroni cheese by adding juicy beef meatballs! If you’re cooking for kids, make a double batch of yummy meatballs so there are extras to pop into school lunchboxes the next day.
Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 45 minutes Serves: 6
IngredientsFor the meatballs:
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus extra for frying
- 1 onion, very finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 slices brown bread
- 500 g lean beef mince
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) plain yoghurt
- 2 tsp (10 ml) dried mixed herbs
- 1 large egg, lightly whisked
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 500 g Pasta Grandé Macaroni
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- 4 litres water
- 6 Tbsp (90 g) butter
- 6 Tbsp (90 ml) flour
- 4 cups (1 litre) milk
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) nutmeg
- 2 tsp (10 ml) smooth mild mustard
- 1½ cups (375 ml) grated Cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- First make the meatballs. Heat the oil in a pot and fry the onion for 4 minutes over a medium heat, until just soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds, without letting it brown.
- Put the bread slices in a food processor and whizz to form bread crumbs. Alternatively, you can soak the slices in a little milk, then squeeze the milk out of them before adding them to the bowl in Step 3.
- Scrape the onions and garlic into a big bowl and add the mince, bread crumbs, yoghurt, herbs and whisked egg. Mix everything together until well combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper (see Papa Grandé’s Tips, below).
- Roll the mixture into balls. Heat more oil in the pan and fry the meatballs, in batches, over a medium-low heat until well browned and cooked through. Turn often to prevent them browning too fast. Or bake them in the oven (see below).
- Now make the cheese sauce. In a separate heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute. Whisk in the cold milk, all in one go, and cook until the sauce thickens, whisking constantly to prevent lumps forming. When the sauce comes to the boil, turn the heat right down and simmer for another 3 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and add the nutmeg, mustard and cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oven to 190 °C.
- Bring the water and salt to a fast boil in a large pot. Add all the pasta in one go and stir to separate the pieces. Briefly cover the pot with a lid until the water comes back to a rapid boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring now and then, for 6-8 minutes, or until just tender (al dente).
- Drain the pasta using a big colander, reserving a third of a cup of the boiling water. Tip the pasta back into the pot you boiled it in and add the reserved water (which will prevent it sticking together).
- Add the cheese sauce and meatballs to the pot containing the pasta, mix gently and season again to taste.
- Tip the mixture into a large greased baking dish and top with the slices of tomato plus extra grated cheese.
- Bake at 190 °C on the top shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling. Serve piping-hot with salad or peas.
- A good way to check the seasoning of the mince mixture before you roll it into balls is to pinch off a small piece and fry it in oil. Taste it once it’s cooked, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
- You can bake the meatballs instead of frying them: place them on a baking sheet, brush them with a little oil and bake at 190 °C for about 30 minutes, or until brown and cooked right through.
- Other Pasta Grandé shapes you can use in this recipe: Penne, Gnocchi, Elbows and Screws.
Meatball Mac 'n Cheese
Add an extra burst of colour by topping your bake with tomatoes in different colours and sizes.