A recipe from the 'Storecupboard Heroes' chapter of Two's Company – a super-tasty mac & cheese soufflé that puffs up gently in the oven. Photograph by Clare Winfield. Copyright Ryland Peters & Small.
This is not one of those towering soufflés that collapses as you take it to the table - more a fluffed version of a family favourite. You can also add a little chopped ham or - trust me on this - tiny cubes of Spam.
For this recipe, I use a soufflé dish 16cm in diameter and 7cm high. I also have a straight-sided oval baking dish of the same capacity, measuring about 24x16cm, and 5cm high, which serves as well.
If I can get hold of fresh tomatoes grown in proper sunshine, I like to serve them as a salad alongside.
3 tablespoons panko or fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
small handful of fresh chives, snipped
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
small can of evaporated milk (170g), or 200ml milk
½ teaspoon dry mustard
splash of Tabasco, plus extra to serve
a little freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, separated
100g cheddar or double Gloucester, grated
salt and pepper
1. Grease your dish with ¼ of the butter and sprinkle thickly with 2 tablespoons of the crumbs. Stand the dish on a small rimmed baking tray, to make it easier to move about.
2. Bring a pan of well salted water to a rolling boil. Calculate pasta cooking time by checking the timing on the pack (in micro-print) and adding half again. Put the pasta in the water, bring back to the boil, clap on the lid and turn off the heat. Set the timer. (After a couple of minutes, give the pasta a stir to stop it sticking together, then put the lid back.) When time is up, check the pasta is cooked, drain (not too thoroughly), then return to pan. Stir in the Dijon and another ¼ of the butter to coat the pasta, then fold in chives and parmesan.
3. Meanwhile, make a white sauce. If using evaporated milk, make up to 200ml with milk or water. Put into a small saucepan with remaining 25g butter and flour and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly as it becomes thick and smooth - the whole operation takes less than 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in dry mustard, Tabasco, nutmeg and plenty of seasoning. Stir the yolks lightly into the sauce, followed by most of the cheddar, then fold in the macaroni mixture.
4. Whisk the whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks then fold lightly into the macaroni mixture. Gently turn the mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Put in the oven and bake at 160C fan/180C/350F for 30-35 minutes, until firm, golden and crunchy and top. Serve sprinkled with Tabasco, if you wish. If you don’t finish the soufflé all at once, put back in the oven, ready for seconds.