Smoked pancetta & Blue-Sticks Blue Mac n’ Cheese

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This is the ultimate comfort food. There’s many times I get that craving for mac and cheese. Especially when it’s been a cold or hectic day and you just want to chill on the couch with a nice big bowl of something comforting, delicious and of course cheesy! There has been times when the thought of a lovely, oozing, cheesy bowl of this gorgeous pasta has been rather exaggerated in my head and I’m then let down by the lack of cheesiness but not this one! This dish was a last minute, use up things I have in the fridge kind of dinner and I’m so glad I had that tangy, strong blue cheese to use up in the fridge, Blue-sticks Blue. It really made this mac and cheese unbelievably delicious…you really need to try it!

350g lumaconi pasta or any shape you prefer
100g smoked pancetta
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
50g blue stick blue cheese
60g strong cheddar cheese
500ml milk
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to season

Firstly put a large pot on water on and bring to the boil. Meanwhile in a small saucepan add a tsp olive oil and then the pancetta and brown slightly. When it’s starting to brown add the garlic and continue to fry for a minute before placing on a plate and set aside. Now add your pasta to the water. In the same saucepan you cooked the pancetta in add a knob of butter on a low heat. Once melted add your flour and stir together until it becomes a thick paste. Cook for a minute before adding the milk, stirring with a whisk constantly to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir until it has thickened then add a little salt, pepper, nutmeg, 3/4 pancetta and garlic, cheddar and 3/4 blue cheese. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and add back into the pot. Now pour over the cheese sauce and mix together thoroughly before transferring into a baking tray. Top the cheesy pasta with the remaining pancetta and blue cheese then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Place under a high grill for a few seconds until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs had browned. Serve and enjoy!
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Orecchiette with radicchio, peas and smoked pancetta

DSC_0239  Orecchiette “little ears” as it translates in Italian. The pasta shape resembles little ears although I try not to think about that as I’m eating it. It’s not the most appetising thought. This is a quick, simple and excellent dish to make, as are most of our recipes. There are times when I like to take time cooking, relaxing with a glass of wine, making homemade pasta, stewing or roasting things for hours but just by chance a lot of what we make is delicious, easy, simple and takes no time at all. Perfect for everyday cooking. We have changed this recipe a few times in the past and maybe it will change again but that’s what cooking is all about, you can add, takeaway and adjust things as you like so try this out and let us know what you think. If you make any adjustments, great! Let us know how you like to mix up your recipes!

Serves 2:
250g orecchiette pasta
65g smoked cubed pancetta
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
60g peas
1/2 chicken stock cube
2 tbsp mascarpone
Handful of radicchio, roughly chopped

First thing to get sorted is a pan of salted water and bring it to the boil. In a frying pan under a medium heat, fry the pancetta until it starts to crisp up and brown slightly. Add the pasta to the water now. Then add the chopped garlic to the pancetta, fry for a minute then add the stock cube followed by two large spoons of pasta water. Wait for the stock cube to melt then add the peas, let simmer for a couple minutes. Taste the pasta and drain if “al dente”. Turn the pan to the lowest heat and add the mascarpone followed by a little pepper. I found this needed no salt as the pancetta is quite salty and the stock cube adds seasoning too but give the sauce a taste and see what you think. Finally add the pasta to the sauce and mix thoroughly. Add some of the chopped radicchio and transfer to lovely big bowls and finally top with the rest of the radicchio. Enjoy!!

P.s Make sure you don’t add the radicchio too soon into the pasta as it loses it’s lovely vibrant purple colour and turns brown when cooked.

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