Few dishes are as universally loved as ooey-gooey, stringy, melty, piping hot mac & cheese. It’s one of the first meals we’re introduced to as children and something we continue to crave throughout adulthood, especially as the weather turns chilly. London-based American comfort food joint Spuntino, the brainchild of British restaurateur Russell Norman (also responsible for Venetian eatery Polpo, which has several outposts throughout the UK), offers a killer version of the cheesy noodle dish. The recipe comes from Norman’s new Spuntino: Comfort Food (New York Style) cookbook ($33; amazon.com) and includes parmesan, fontina, mozzarella, and heaps of crunchy breadcrumbs. “We have held competitions for the longest strings of melted cheese from pan to mouth,” Norman writes. Try the recipe below and conduct your own contest!
Mac & Cheese
9 oz macaroni pasta
1 cup whole milk
2 cup double cream
6 oz grated parmesan
9 oz grated mozzarella – the hard, cheap kind
1½ tbs Dijon mustard
1⅔ tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Flaky sea salt and black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated fontina
1. Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil, add the pasta and some fine salt, and stir. When the water boils again, turn down to a medium heat and follow the instructions on the packet, usually simmering for around 11 minutes. Drain when al dente.
2. Once cooled, transfer the drained pasta to a large mixing bowl and add the milk, the double cream, 4 ½ oz of the Parmesan, half of the mozzarella and the Dijon mustard. Mix together thoroughly and leave to soak for 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, trim the leeks by removing and discarding the green tops and the roots, and finely chop. Wash the chopped leeks thoroughly to get rid of any grit. Place a medium pan over a low heat, melt the butter and very gently sweat the leeks with the garlic, 4 large pinches of flaky sea salt and a good pinch of black pepper. After about 10 minutes the leeks will have a translucent, glossy appearance. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Once the leeks have cooled, drain off any lingering fluid and add them to the soaking pasta.
4. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining parmesan and set aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Add the grated fontina and the remaining mozzarella to the pasta mixture and combine well. Transfer the mix to a large baking dish or six individual dishes and cover with the breadcrumb and parmesan mix. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and bubbling, for 25-30 minutes if using one large dish, or 15-20 minutes if using individual dishes.