Pale Ale Mac ‘n Cheese

Craft beer and Mac ‘n Cheese in one dish ? It must be the ultimate hipster food! 😱

Admittedly, the original recipe is contributed to the August 2016 edition of BBC Good Food Magazine by Emma Freud, their New York correspondent, citing it as the ultimate comfort food and a staple in Manhattan’s East Village. It can indeed be safely coined as hipster food then. 😉

I had several tries at Mac ‘n Cheeses before (see my earlier posts Mac ‘n Cheese with Black Beans and Chipotle and Mac ‘n Cheese by Marco Pierre White), but I hadn’t come across a one pot variety, so the decision to make this one was made instantly.

I actually had to look hard to get my hands on a regular Pale Ale; everything seems to be Indian Pale Ales nowadays… I had to settle on Scottish brewery BrewDog’s Dead Pony Club. A nice and hoppy – low alcohol at 3.8% ABV – Pale Ale with great citrus aromas, which was still distinguishable in the dish.

The Recipe (adjusted)

  • 50g / 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 250g / 1/2 lbs spinach leaves
  • 500ml / 2 cups milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
  • 330ml / 11oz bottle of Pale Ale
  • 300g / 7.5oz macaroni
  • 125g / 4oz mature cheddar, grated
  • 200g / 7oz mozzarella, grated
  1. In a flameproof casserole dish (or ovenproof frying pan), melt the butter and fry the garlic for 2 minutes
  2. Add the spinach and cook until wilted (about 2 more minutes)
  3. Pour in the milk and beer the pan and bring it gently to a simmer
  4. Add the macaroni and stir frequently for around 20 minutes until the pasta is cooked
  5. In the meantime heat your  grill on high
  6. Stir in the cheddar and half of the the mozzarella. When the cheeses start to melt, season to taste (it can use quite a bit of freshly ground black pepper!), sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and put the panunder the grill for about 7-10 mins until browned and bubbling all over

What worked and what didn’t:
This one pot recipe worked brilliantly! As there was no cream or roux involved – only milk and cheese – it was relatively light, but still had a great ooziness due to the use of mozzarella.

However, due to use of mozzarella, do make sure to use a mature cheddar as regular cheddar does not have sufficient flavour of its own to compensate for the rather bland taste of the mozzarella.

Recipe accuracy:
The recipe is accurate, easy to follow and indeed serves 4 persons.

Suggested tweaks:
Besides changing the original quantities a bit – I needed more macaroni as using a full bottle of beer – I also added some more garlic (to add some more punch) and multiplied the original spinach content by 5 (to give the dish a slightly healthier appearance), using a mature cheddar or other sharp cheese is the only improvement I could think of.

Verdict: 9/10; Will definitely be made again

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