Friday, 8 March 2013

Baby Mac 'n Cheese

Making this dish was as much about showing off the gorgeous ramekins Clint bought me for Christmas, as it was about the gooey, cheesy, decadent pasta that went inside them. He hand-picked the colours for us. It reminds me of when I was a kid, and my Mum and Dad had a set of eight champagne saucers, all different coloured etched glass. All seven of us had our own colour and got to drink out of them at Christmas time. I love a family tradition.

Note: My pretty ramekins are 300ml capacity so the mixture actually made 5 portions. The 5th portion went into a plain white ramekin, so I didn't include it in the photographs as it would have messed up the aesthetics... not that I'm precious at all.

Baby Mac 'n Cheese
from Nigella Lawson's Nigellissima
Makes 4 - 6 ramekins

Soft butter for ramekins
100g grated cheese (I used Formaggio Rigato) or you could use Gruyere
1 tablespoon cornflour
125g fresh mozzarella, chopped
200g pennette rigate, or use elbow macaroni
Salt for pasta water, to taste
60ml dry white vermouth
300ml chicken stock
50g mascarpone
1 teaspoon truffle oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C., or heat the grill (broiler). Butter the ramekins, and put a pot of water on to heat for the pasta. While you're waiting for the water to come to a boil, toss the grated cheese with the cornflour in a bowl, and chop the mozzarella and let it stand somewhere to lose any excess liquid.

Salt the water once it's boiling, and cook the pennette until on the firm side of al dente: Read package instructions and start checking 3 minutes before the pasta is meant to be ready.

Meanwhile, heat the vermouth in a saucepan big enough to hold the pasta later, and let it come to a boil before adding the chicken stock. Let it come to a bubble again, then take it off the heat and whisk in the cornstarch-tossed cheese. The cheese will melt into a mass of gooey cheese strings.

Add the mascarpone to the pan and whisk again, then add the truffle oil — go slowly and taste — stirring it into the sauce.

Tip the cooked, drained pasta into the sauce and stir to coat. Then toss in the chopped mozzarella, and stir again so that it is distributed throughout.

Ladle the cheesy pasta into the ramekins, trying to get an even amount of pasta and sauce in each. The sauce will seem very liquid but don't panic, as the pasta sucks it up in the oven. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top, dividing it equally between the ramekins, and give a good grinding of white pepper to each one.

Bake for 10 minutes in the hot oven, or (grill) broil until golden on top, and let stand for 5 minutes, at least, before eating.


  1. so stunning! i loved oven baked pasta :)

  2. Awwwwwww!!!!!! Lucky with those little Creuset!! I have almost the same but they're not Creuset. Baby mac n' cheese, how cute is that name for a recipe :) I love it Jen, it think that everything in this post is cute haha :)

  3. Those ramekins are adorable!!! SUCH a cute idea to do little individual mac and cheese pots for everyone. Going to have to put those on my wish list...

  4. So cute! And looks so delicious! My kids would love to get their dinner served in this way:)

  5. There's that pasta again.....
    I haven't even had breakfast and I'm wanting to eat it!
    P.s thanks for the banana bread the other day. :)

  6. Thanks Katerina. Oven baked pasta always feels like a treat. Am I right?

  7. Aren't they darling Little Kitchie? I squealed when I first saw them.

    PS: More Mac 'n Cheese. Are you sensing a pattern?

  8. Oh yeah, Sara, put their food in their own personalised pots and watch them eat... works every time.

  9. Sorry to do that to you at breakfast time Sam.

    PS: You're welcome. Hope you enjoyed it.

  10. Love this and portioned out so I can't get into too much trouble!

  11. Hey Jessica. Exactly - no going back for second helpings. It's the only way it's ever going to happen to me.

  12. Yuuuum! Also Linus is the coolest name ever!

  13. Hey Sarah. Clint and I are huge Peanuts and Pixies fans. (Our second son is Joey Santiago, after the guitarist in the band.)