Calling all cheese lovers, this one’s for you!

Published: February 7, 2017

Layers of macaroni, spicy meat sauce loaded with cheese white sauce, baked into an awesome weekend dinner. PHOTO: NAZEEHA KHAN.

What I baked this weekend was a rich-indulgent and succulent macaroni and cheese casserole.

Layers of macaroni, spicy meat sauce loaded with cheese white sauce, baked into an awesome weekend dinner. The recipe involves several steps for preparing the different layers but I am sure it will be worth all the hard work when you enjoy this scrumptious casserole with your family and friends and receive a lot of praise.

I began with boiling my pasta. The best way to get it Al Dante is, throw your pasta in the water after it has begun boiling. Let the pasta boil for not more than 12 minutes. Drain the water and rinse your pasta quickly with tap water. This is to stop the pasta from cooking, as it continues to do so due to the steam present. Drop a little olive oil in to keep your pasta from sticking to itself and getting lumpy while you prepare the sauce.

Once you have prepared both the meat sauce and white sauce, begin layering them. Your olive oil tossed macaroni can sit in the bottom of your oven-proof dish.

Then spread an even layer of the meat sauce. Here I have used chicken but you may substitute it with beef or mutton.

Now pour your cheese white sauce generously over the meat layer. I have kept the sauce fairy thin in consistency so it can run down through the bottom layer of macaroni, keeping it moist and keeping the dish from running dry. The more fluid your sauce, the better fused all the flavours get in a casserole while baking.

Next, spread shreds of your favourite cheese on top.

Finally sprinkle some oregano leaves, dried or fresh, to give it a nice herby aroma and flavour.

Bake your casserole in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes. Do not over bake or your dish will lose all its moisture and juiciness. Then turn off your oven and turn on the top grill for five minutes or until the cheese layer gets nice golden blisters.

There you go! Your scrumptious and delectable pasta treat is ready…

Ingredients:

Macaroni – 1 packet

Olive oil – 3 tbsp

Cheddar cheese  – 200 gms (grated)

Oregano leaves – 1 tbsp (dried or fresh)

Meat Sauce:

Chicken or beef – 1 kg (mince)

Bay leaf – 1

Garlic cloves – 4 or 5 (crushed)

Ginger – 1 tsp (crushed)

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Red chilli flakes – 2 tsp

Black pepper – 1 tsp

Chicken powder – 1 tsp

Sugar – 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Hot sauce – 1 tbsp

Bottled pizza sauce – 1 cup

Tomato purée –3 tbsp

Oregano – 1 tsp

Ground white cumin – 1 tsp (roasted)

Chicken stock – ¼ cup

White sauce:

Butter – 1 tbsp

Flour – 2 tbsp

Milk – 4 cups or more (if required to keep sauce a little runny)

Cream Cheese – 1 tbsp

Black pepper – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Chicken powder – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Cheddar cheese – 200 gms (grated)

Method:

1. Boil the macaroni. Strain and toss in some olive oil. Set aside.

2. In a saucepan, heat a little oil and fry the bay leaf. Add the mince and sauté till it turns white and all its water dries out. Now add garlic and ginger and sauté for another one minute. Add in all the spices and seasonings. Finally add in the pizza sauce, hot sauce and stock. Cover and simmer at low heat for two minutes. Your meat sauce is ready.

3. In another saucepan, heat butter and sauté flour in it for a minute. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in milk. Continue whisking to avoid forming lumps of flour. If some lumps are formed , don’t worry , keep whisking and return to the flame but at its lowest. Add in the spices and cream cheese. Once the sauce comes to a boil, add the cheddar cheese. The sauce is ready, but don’t overcook it otherwise it will become thick and lumpy.

4. Layer the macaroni in an ovenproof casserole dish. Cover with the meat layer. Pour the white sauce over it. Spread a generous layer of grated cheese on top and finish off with a sprinkle of oregano. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Grill the top layer for five minutes after baking.

All photos: Nazeeha Khan

This post originally appeared here.

Nazeeha Khan

Nazeeha Khan

The author is a self taught passion driven baker. She conducts culinary classes in PECHS and DHA, runs a food blog, a YouTube channel and has mentored many students as they turned into entrepreneurs/home based bakers. She tweets @MySecretBakes

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    I am a pasta and cheese lover……… and that looks soooooo goood.Recommend

  • Amber Saleem

    I love cheese and this is looking so tempting.Recommend