MAC & (NO) CHEESE
As we mourn the end of our little unexpected summer, cooler winds and darker nights are starting to blow in, which always leaves me wanting comfort food. I love the classic mac & cheese, but hate the bloated feeling after too much rich and heavy sauce. Instead, this easy stovetop macaroni dish is full of flavour and comfort, but without huge quantities of saturated fat and stodge. A large gammon steak is relatively cheap, and cut into chunks provides enough for four as part of the meal. You could leave it out if you’re a veggie, or substitute with chicken as an alternative.
My shopping was done entirely at Newgate market, bar the macaroni (supermarket!), and the abundance of beautiful seasonal veggies was wonderful. Particularly tempting were trays of fresh figs, which were bought for a sweet treat after tea, with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a tiny drizzle of honey… yum.
1 large leek
1 white onion
About ½ small Savoy cabbage
1 large gammon steak
Enough macaroni to feed the family (about 75g/person)
Dried sage (or fresh!) – optional
TOTAL SPEND: £4.59
- Finely slice the onion and leek, and put in a large pan. Add some olive oil (and a little butter if you want it to be a little more naughty and indulgent) and begin to gently fry over a low heat. You want the onion and leek to soften, rather than colour.
- Wash several Savoy cabbage leaves and chop into fine slivers. Add to the leeks and onions, adding a little more olive oil if needed.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil, and start cooking the macaroni, as per packet instructions, until al-dente. It should take around 10 minutes.
- Cut the gammon steak into bite-size chunks, removing the fatty edge, and add to the pan. Stir through, letting the gammon colour on all sides. Once the gammon is beginning to colour, pour some water into the pan, just enough to almost cover everything, but not completely. The liquid will create a light, creamy sauce, and ensure the gammon stays moist, and doesn’t toughen. Keep on a low heat, and allow to bubble gently. Season with black pepper, and sage, a herb that works really well with pork.
- As it cooks, the liquid will reduce, and you should have a thin sauce. Once the gammon is cooked through, if the sauce is very watery still, you can add a teaspoon of cornflour to thicken it if needed.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain, and add to the veg and gammon pan. Mix thoroughly, so the macaroni is completely covered in the sauce, and the gammon is evenly distributed. Serve in big pasta dishes (maybe even with a little sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan).