I don't know anyone who doesn't want seconds or thirds when they try this. It's a gorgeous treat - the bacon is possibly a little OTT for something already so decadent but it really completes the dish. Enjoy!
50 to 75g bacon lardons, or diced bacon
470ml full fat milk
40g plain flour
150g medium Cheddar, grated
75g very mature Cheddar, grated
75g Gruyere cheese, grated
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
250g macaroni, cooked al dente
cracked black pepper, to taste
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Fry the bacon lardons in a large frying pan until crisp (they should fry in their own rendered fat, however add a little olive oil if needed).
Pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the peeled whole onion. Simmer on a very low heat to infuse the milk with the onion flavour. Set milk aside into a jug for easy pouring once finished.
Make a roux from the butter and flour. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the flour to form a thick, doughy paste.
Add the warm milk to the roux in small batches on a low heat, gradually thinning the paste to a white sauce. This will take patience and constant stirring. The finished sauce should coat the back of a metal spoon.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add about 3/4 of the grated cheeses. Stir well until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
Pour the drained cooked pasta into a large casserole dish and cover with cheese sauce. Season with a little black pepper and add the bacon. Mix well. Cover the dish with the remaining cheese and a scattering of breadcrumbs.
Bake in the oven at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes, and grill for a further 10 minutes to give a crispy golden topping.
Stand for 5 minutes before serving.
For the mature Cheddar, find the strongest, stinkiest one possible. It gives this mac and cheese the punch it sometimes lacks. For a variation, you could also try adding a teaspoon of English mustard or some onion powder (fab stuff if you can find it) alongside the black pepper.