Curious Davide's Mac & Cheese

Our little brother, Curious Davide, is back with another whopping recipe. I’m sharing an apartment with him now in Cork City, so whilst I have to put up with his smelly feet, he’s a dab hand in the kitchen, which more than makes up for it. This is another one of my picks from his repertoire. Please don’t confuse this with school dinner mac & cheese, or that from a tin.

Curious Davide’s Mac & Cheese (serves 6)

500g macaroni or rigatoni pasta
1 pint of cheese sauce (I’ll be using Delia’s recipe again for this)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
5-6 bacon rashers, sliced
two good handfuls of mature cheddar cheese, grated
handful of breadcrumbs
small amount of finely chopped rosemary
side salad to serve

Mix the chopped rosemary into the breadcrumbs and set aside. Turn the oven to 190 degrees C. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, season generously with salt and add the pasta. Get started immediately on the cheese sauce and fry the bacon in a separate pan. When it starts to crisp, add the onions and fry for two minutes.

Drain the pasta and then pour as much cheese sauce as you like over the pasta. You’ll most likely use less than the full pint. Remove from the heat and add the bacon and onions. Put everything into an ovenproof dish and cover the top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bang into the oven until the top is golden and crisp. Bring to the table and enjoy with salad.

The wine match

For me this dish is wine heaven. I found myself craving a glass of wine as soon as I got started, but I only had red open from the night before and no white wine chilling (I know, very bad form for a wine merchant). Fortunately, the open red wine was a sample of a new Barbera we are bringing in shortly. It was actually a really beautiful match. Barbera has good acidity and is not too weighty, so it didn’t smother the dish. The Bricco dei Guazzi Barbera del Monferrato would also do a superb job.

I suppose the natural white wine match would be Italian Pinot Grigio. Our new PG from Borgo Magredo fits that bill perfectly. It’s got enough body and richness to carry the cheese sauce. The Goccia Pinot Grigio would be another good choice, but you could also go with a Chardonnay, my preference being one with restrained oak, or that is unwooded. The Spring Seed Chardonnay is unoaked, yet it retains body and a creamy texture from malolactic fermentation, a process winemakers use to help soften acidity and bring an extra richness to the wine.

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