Chef John Whaite, of Great British Bake Off fame, has a collection of recipes out that highlights the simple, rather than the ornate. This latest cookbook, Perfect Plates, promises the home cook one very important thing: no recipe calls for more than five ingredients. Ideal for pantry cooking nights, beginners and anyone else who appreciates the beauty of a delicious, uncomplicated meal will love this book. This creamy taleggio mac and cheese is the classiest comfort food casserole we’ve ever witnessed.
One of the world’s ultimate comfort foods, mac ’n cheese is gooey, rich, and fulfilling. Here I’ve used an Italianate pairing: the fennel-flecked salsiccia sausages, which are so bold in flavor, and the creamy, yet tangy Taleggio cheese. The real trickery in this dish, though, is that the traditional béchamel sauce is substituted with evaporated milk, making cozy indulgence an even quicker feat.
Variations: If you can’t get hold of the Italian sausage, go for a good quality sausage that contains fennel (fresh or seeds). If you can’t find Taleggio, use a strong Brie or Camembert instead.
- 6 Italian fennel sausages
- 12 ounces small pasta (I use fusilli bucati/rotini)
- 1 3/4 cups canned evaporated milk
- 14 ounces taleggio cheese
- 4 1/2 ounces mozzarella cheese
- sea salt flakes
- coarse black pepper
For the mac and cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the sausages into a medium-sized roasting dish (use the one you plan to cook the finished dish in, so that it keeps the flavors). Once the oven is hot, cook the sausages for 25 to 30 minutes, until gently colored and cooked through.
Remove from the roasting dish and allow to cool — but leave all of those meaty juices in the dish. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and add a few generous pinches of salt. Add the pasta, and boil for 9 minutes. Drain, leaving the pasta in the strainer or colander until required. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F.
Once the sausages are cool enough to handle, slice them into fairly thick chunks. Using the same pan, bring the evaporated milk to a simmer, and add the Taleggio in chunks. Stir the sauce until the cheese melts, and everything is smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon black pepper and a pinch of salt to taste, then add the pasta and sliced sausages, stirring well to coat everything.
Pour the mac ‘n cheese into the roasting dish. Tear over the mozzarella, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling, and the mozzarella is molten and burnished.