Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Kimchi

I’m usually a ball of nerves in the kitchen, but making this dish was especially stressful. First of all, I’ve never cooked for a group before, certainly not 14 pax, and the thought of everyone politely picking at my food and refusing seconds made my blood run cold.

Also, this is my first time attempting to make mac ‘n’ cheese, and while it’s simple enough for the average cook in the street, I ain’t your average cook in the street. I burn sausages, overcook eggs, and watch instructional videos on how to cut onions. But we had a party to go to and 14 mouths to feed, so feeling both excited and scared, I bumbled around the kitchen and finally rustled up a decent-looking tray of carbs. Given that the dish was nearly emptied by the end of the evening, I guess it couldn’t have been too repulsive, right?

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Makes
Enough for 8 servings (there were 14 pax, but plenty other food to go round)

Total time
50 mins (Cook: 25 mins. Bake: 25 mins)

Ingredients
500g short macaroni pasta (water and 1 tbsp salt to cook)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups whole milk
1 cup leafy kimchi
1/2 cup bacon bits
4 cups shredded cheese (I used a Cheddar-Mozzarella mix)
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cheese for grating (I used Fontina)
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Steps
1. In a large pot of salted water, cook the macaroni pasta according to the package directions. Drain and put aside.
2.Wipe out the pot and melt the butter over medium heat.
3. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk while stirring. Cook until the sauce slightly thickens, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shredded cheese, mustard, and pepper and stir to melt. Stir in the pasta and bacon bits, coating well with the sauce.
4. Transfer half the pasta to a baking dish (I used the disposable aluminum type) in an even layer. Spread the kimchi over, and cover with the remaining pasta. Grate cheese generously over everything.
5. Garnish with parsley and bake at 180 °C for 25 mins or until golden brown.
6. If making ahead, cover tightly with plastic wrap after Step 4 and refrigerate until ready to bake, up to 4 days.

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