by Rick Stein

Someone I met in Palermo once told me that the secret of good Italian dishes is ‘esagera’ – put more of everything in – and so it is with this mac & cheese recipe. There’s masses of cheese and plenty of smoked bacon.

Equipment: you will need a 35x20cm/14x8in ovenproof dish.

Main course

Buyer's guide

Macaroni can be bought dried or fresh. The former takes longer to cook, but is recommended as it gives a better texture. It is available in numerous sizes and flavours, including wholewheat variety. Buy large shapes for stuffing and baked dishes.


Kept in an airtight jar in a dry place away from direct sunlight, macaroni will keep for several months.


Cook macaroni in salted, boiling water, following the packet instructions. It is most widely used in macaroni cheese, served with sauces, or baked in savoury and sweet gratins.