Macaroni Pie

macaroni pieAs a child I found it delightful that people in Scotland and the Caribbean both eat macaroni pies. I always wondered if this was an early example of multiculturalism and love of carbohydrate. It was only once I moved to Brixton that I realised that the two types of pie are different.

In the Caribbean, especially Trinidad, macaroni pie is the name for macaroni cheese that is baked rather than served as a looser mac and cheese. In Scotland, a macaroni pie is in fact pasta in a pastry case.

As I’ve never met a carb I didn’t want to get to know better, I’ve decided tto combine the today and make the ultimate macaroni pie no matter where you come from. I blame my Scottish roots….

Macaroni Pie

Makes one 23cm pie

  • 200g macaroni (uncooked weight)
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 200g grated cheese (I use 150g cheddar and 50g parmesan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 225g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, cubed
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice cold water

Start by making the pastry. Scottish macaroni pies use a hot water crust but because this is made with lard, it isn’t suitable for vegetarians so I use shortcrust instead.

Pastry is best when it is cold so make sure your hands aren’t too warm and then add the cold cubed butter to the flour and rub it in with your finger tips. Some of it should look like fine breadcrumbs, but don’t be afraid to leave some chunks of butter as they are. If you rub too much, your pastry will shrink.

Add 2 tablespoons of the cold water and bring the pastry together so it is just wet enough to work with. You may need the extra tablespoon but you don’t want sticky pastry so go slowly. Knead the pastry slightly until it is smooth. Wrap it tightly in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

Turn your attention to your macaroni cheese. Tip the macaroni into boiling water and cook for about 6-7 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the flour. Stir it together as it turns into a paste or roux. Cook it for about 1-2 minutes and then start adding the milk a little bit at a time. Keep stirring it all as you add it and the roux will transform from a paste to a sauce as you go.

When all the milk is added and the sauce starts to thicken, add the grated cheddar cheese and season with the mustard powder and salt and pepper. Stir well. Drain the macaroni and add it into the cheese sauce making sure it is well coated. Set aside.

Roll the chilled pastry out to about 1 cm thick on a lightly floured surface. Use the rolling pin to lift it up and into a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin, pushing the pastry down into the grooves of the tin lightly with your knuckles. Trim the pastry. Prick the pastry base all over with a fork.

Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes at 180ºC for 15 minutes. This is known as baking blind and gets the pastry to be light crispy without a soggy bottom.

Remove the paper and pour the macaroni cheese into the pastry. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top it and bake the whole pie* in the oven for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden and the macaroni cheese is bubbling and burnished.

Allow the pie to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into slices and serving. It’s surprisingly good with a crisp green salad but I also rather like a dollop of ketchup with it…

*I made four small pies and used a star on the top to make it fancier. It looks photogenic but made the pie dry out so I’d avoid this if taste is more important than looks.