Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cauliflower Macaroni

Jamie Oliver is one of my favourite TV Chefs and I love his style of cooking (bar the ridiculous amounts of olive oil he drenches everything in!) so I have been lovvvvvving his new programme; Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. He cooks several components to a meal in real time, giving lots of hints and shortcuts but without compromising on taste. I decided to give this recipe a go as I love cauliflower cheese and this seemed like an easy twist on that. I have added my own notes and alterations in bold.

Ingredients (Serves 6):
8 rashers of pancetta (I couldn’t find any and so used bacon lardons instead. I chopped them up, fried them and added them to the food processor with the breadcrumbs)
1 large head of cauliflower (This definitely needs more cauliflower for flavour, I’d say 2 heads would be better)
500g dried macaroni
250g mature Cheddar cheese
4 thick slices of country bread
Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
1 x 250g tub of crème fraîche
Parmesan cheese, to serve

1)      To start: Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Turn the oven on to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7. Put the coarse grater attachment into the food processor.
2)     Lay the pancetta in a roasting tray (approx. 30 x 25cm, or large enough to bake the pasta in) and put on the top shelf of the oven. Get rid of any tatty outer leaves from the cauliflower, then trim off the tough base of the stalk and quarter the head. Put in a large saucepan, core down, with the pasta, on a high heat. Cover with boiling water, filling and reboiling the kettle if necessary. Season with a good pinch of salt, drizzle over a little olive oil, then stir and cook according to packet instructions, with the lid askew.
3)     PhotobucketGrate the Cheddar in the food processor and tip into a bowl. Fit the standard blade attachment, then get your pancetta out of the oven and blitz in the processor with the bread, rosemary leaves and a good drizzle of olive oil until you have a coarse breadcrumb consistency.
4)     Put a colander over a large bowl to catch the pasta water, then drain the pasta and cauliflower. Tip into the roasting tray you cooked your pancetta in, and put over a low heatPhotobucket (I put it in the pasta pan at this point rather than the roasting tray, then transferred it into the tray for when I put it in the oven to cook the topping). Add 400ml of the reserved pasta water from the bowl (I used about 200ml as 400 would have made it far too watery). Crush in the 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic and mix in the crème fraîche and grated Cheddar, gently breaking up the cauliflower with tongs or a potato masher. Have a taste and correct the seasoning. It should be nice and loose; if not, add another splash of the pasta water.
5)     Spread out evenly and scatter over the breadcrumbs. Put on the top shelf of the oven for about 8 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
6)     To serve: When the cauliflower macaroni is golden and bubbling, take it to the table and shave over some Parmesan.

Recipe taken from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals... by Jamie Oliver ©Jamie Oliver 2010. All rights reserved
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This recipe got a mixed reaction from the family, with some saying it was a bit bland. I think this is due to the lack of cauliflower, and some members getting more than others in their portions. I thought it was nice and garlicky and the topping was lovely with the bacon adding a nice kick to the meal. It was dead easy to make and actually didn’t take too much longer than 30mins. With a few alterations such as more cauliflower, and maybe a serving of peas (that may just be me, I love peas with everything) this meal could be much improved.

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