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less than 30 mins
30 mins to 1 hour
Serves 4 glamorous guests
A classic ‘just for the family’ dish turned completely on its head. Serve this little number in individual portions to make it worthy of any dinner-party table. I have used dolcelatte as my cheese of choice. It is softer round the edges than Stilton and incredibly moreish. It dresses up this British classic to make it a meal fit for royalty.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water, for 8-10 minutes, or until just cooked. (It needs to be just undercooked as the pasta will be cooked again in the oven.) Drain, return to the pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a medium frying pan over a gentle heat until it just starts to brown and crisp up, then add the thyme leaves and spring onions and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add its contents to the pasta.
For the sauce, put the butter, flour, nutmeg and mustard in a small pan set over a medium heat and cook until the butter has melted. Mix the milk and cream together in a jug and add a little to the flour and butter in the pan, stirring well. Keep adding the milk mixture, bit by bit, stirring well each time. (This will prevent the sauce from going lumpy. The temptation is to put all the milk in at once only to find you are left with clumps of flour floating on the surface. Should this happen, take the pan off the heat and whisk it like crazy. This normally does the trick to eliminate all the lumps! Make sure you get the spoon into the ‘corners’ of the pan as stray mounds of flour often lurk there.)
Once all the milk has been added, turn up the heat and boil for a minute or two. The sauce will thicken considerably, then remove the pan from the heat. Add two-thirds of the dolcelatte (or gorgonzola) and parmesan to the sauce while it is still hot and stir together until well combined. It may be a bit lumpy, but that is fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the sauce to the pasta mixture and stir everything together. Spoon the mixture into a shallow casserole dish or four individual large ramekins.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs over the top and bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and the topping is golden-brown.
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
If you are not a blue cheese fan a good British Cheddar will also suit instead.