I always use holiday season as a good excuse to 'turn over' your fridge and freezer, to strip the cupboards bare ready for the winter hoard. However, if you are busy in your job, then that makes life a little awkward when it comes to feeding your family.
Knowing what to do with some store cupboard essentials and one or two fresh ingredients is the key, so it is always good to have a few simple recipes up your sleeve ready for these times.
At a food show I was presenting at on my return were the usual array of quality local suppliers. One supplier I've been a fan of for some time is Piperfield Pork of Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Using their herd of middle white pigs, Piperfield are producing incredible quality pork produce, including their take on a chorizo sausage. Not too salty, plenty of soft fat and paprika tinged meat, these chorizo are up there with some of the best Spanish chorizo I have ever tasted. If you can't take my word for it, ask Heston Blumenthal who has been using Piperfield pork at The Fat Duck some years now.
Thanks to one of their delicious sausages, it made that old standard comfort food of youth, macaroni cheese, into a memorable store cupboard meal for the family. Digging into the soft creamy pasta stuffed sauce and finding a nugget of crisp chorizo; do I really need to paint the picture? It is essential to strip, so be inspired and turn those cupboards over.
Mustard Macaroni Cheese with Chorizo
50g plain flour
150g Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp English or Dijon mustard
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
250g macaroni cheese
1 chorizo sausage, cut into think slices
1 tbsp olive oil
50g Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 200C, GM6.
2 - Bring a pan of water up to the boil and add the macaroni. Boil for 5-6 minutes or 2-3 minutes less than the instructions state. Drain and reserve. Cool under cold running water if preparing in advance so that it does not overcook.
3 - To make the cheese and mustard sauce, melt the butter in a pan then add the flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring all of the time until you have a smooth béchamel sauce. Stir in the cheese and mustards. Taste for seasoning.
4 - Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the chorizo. Cook until crisp in each side then drain on a piece of kitchen towel.
5 - Stir the pasta and sausage into the cheese sauce. Pour into a buttered casserole dish then cover with the Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve with a simple green salad.