What could possibly taste better than mac and cheese?
Like pretty much everyone I loooove mac and cheese and almost every time I make some I try to spice up my classic recipe by adding vegetables, proteins and/or spices.
My love affair with mac and cheese started a few years ago in Camden town. Camden town is a very cool place in London with lots of food stalls, vintage treasures and many unique other things.
So a couple of years ago while I was in Camden, I stumbled upon this amazing food stall called the "Mac Factory", they had the creamiest, the cheesiest and the most delicious mac and cheese I ever tasted! But the best thing about them is that they specialized exclusively in mac and cheese and their menu looked like a world map of mac and cheese.
Since that day, I started experimenting different versions of my favourite pasta dish with a Moroccan twist, of course. My two favourites jazzed-up recipes are kefta & kale and lobster & preserved lemons mac and cheese (which will land on the blog at some point). Today we are doing the meaty and healthy version, well, let's just pretend it's healthy because k a l e.
This dish is a like a warm blanket on a cold winter night! It is simple comfort food that will for sure cosy you up!
Kefta and Kale Mac and Cheese
- 40 gr unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 40 gr plain flour
- 700 ml milk
- 180 gr grated mature cheddar or gruyere or mix of both
- Salt and pepper to season
- 225 gr kefta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 70 gr chopped kale leaves (stalks discarded)
- 350 gr dried macaroni
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, any type
• Start by making the white sauce. Melt the butter in a large deep skillet or saucepan over low heat, then add the flour and cayenne pepper. Stir vividly for 2 minutes using a wooden spoon until you obtain a smooth paste. For your information this paste is called a “roux”.
• Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in teaspoons of milk into the paste, until the paste becomes creamy and then liquid. The more milk you will add, the thinner the paste will get. Once a quarter of the milk has been incorporated, add the rest of the milk and keep stirring. It is important to do this step gradually, otherwise you will obtain lumps in your white sauce.
• Return the pan to the heat and increase the heat to medium high and bring the white sauce to the boil, stirring constantly. Once the sauce is boiling reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently without stirring for 4 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
• Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in all but 4 tablespoons of cheese (you will use it later). Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.
• Now it is time to cook the kefta and kale. In a large frying pan, place the olive oil and the kale over medium heat and cover for 5 to 7 minutes until the kale starts to soften. Once the kale is soft, stir in the kefta and mix with the kale. Leave until the kefta is cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes and set aside.
• Meanwhile, cook your macaroni al dente according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In a large bowl mix together the drained macaroni, the white sauce, and the kefta and kale. Transfer the mixture to an oven proof dish (or 6 small oven proof dishes).
• Heat your oven's grill to its highest setting.
• In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle over the kefta and kale mac and cheese.
• Place the dish under the preheated grill for 1 or 2 minutes (depending on the intensity of your grill) until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbling.
• If you prepare your mac and cheese dish in advance, keep it in the fridge and warm it up in the oven at 180 C (350 F) for 20 minutes. before placing it under the grill for 1 minute.