Southern mac & cheese
Among the most traditional of southern home cooking in America, this mac and cheese is jazzed up with salty country ham, thick ziti elbows and a blend of five cheeses for a modernised twist that goes best with champagne. To push it truly over the top, garnish with shaved black truffle just before baking!
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes, including cooking noodles.
750g ziti pasta (elbow shape)
500g finely diced salt-cured country ham or, alternatively, pancetta
1½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (plus extra for topping)
1½ cup grated Asiago cheese (plus extra for topping)
1½ cup grated Provolone cheese (plus extra for topping)
1½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for topping)
1½ cup heavy cream (or half & half)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Shaved black truffles (optional)
• Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
• In a large pot of well-salted water boil the ziti until al dente. Strain and set aside.
• While pasta is cooking, cook the ham in a heavy stock pot over medium heat, until it is slightly crispy and the fat has rendered. Drain most of the fat, retaining a little for flavor.
• In the same pot add to the ham all the cheeses (except those set aside for extra topping) and the cream and slowly melt, whisking until fully blended.
• Season cheese/ham mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
• Add the cooked ziti to the pot and mix together gently until fully incorporated, careful to avoid breaking the pasta while stirring.
• Transfer mixture to a large baking dish or cast iron skillet, top with remaining cheese (at this stage you can also sprinkle some shaved truffle on top as well, if desired). Bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbling through. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes for the cheese to re-set.