I have recently had the joy of re watching the Sopranos from start to finish (seriously how amazing is that series!) and it got me thinking about the impact of America and in particular Italian American food on the food I love to cook and eat.

Something I will look into at a later time will be what I want to try from this culture, but for now I want to look at one particular dish and that is the A-mazing Mac and Cheese. Some call it comfort food, I just call it flat out delicious.

Now I don’t know when this revolution started, but Mac and Cheese suddenly started appearing everywhere in London, from a side of lobster mac and cheese perfectly complementing a juicy Steak at Hawksmoor, through to creamy bacon topped mac and cheese as a main at Balthazar, it just seemed to be everywhere – and I was always guaranteed to order it! To mis-quote Field of Dreams, if they make it, I will order (sorry!)

My wife is not that keen, too rich for her, but I adore it and we have tried a few variations. The Hawksmoor one was good, requiring a trip to Neals Yard Cheese Shop to get the right mix of Stilton, Cheddar and Ogleshield. This one was good, but a little bland in my opinion.

The Creme de la creme so far was actually the Glam Mac and Cheese from Lorraine Pascale – Glam Mac and Cheese Recipe. This one was immensely rich, full of cream, enough cheese to feed an army and with a beautiful crispy top.  I cant take credit for this, it was my wife who made it, but I thoroughly recommend it.

Mac and cheese

My trip to Dubai has thrown up a couple of newbies. Firstly was the Mac and Cheese topped burger from the Cheesecake Factory. This was a crazy idea, a juicy burger topped with a deep fried mac and cheese ball. It was over the top, as so much American food is, – but it certainly tasted amazing.

Secondly was on a trip to  TGI Fridays (don’t judge me) on my short visa run to Oman. Here it was deep fried Mac and Cheese Balls as a starter, and it is this that I am thinking of making on my return.

I’m thinking that the key will be to ensure you have a blend of great cheese, a little stilton as per the Hawksmoor perhaps and some nice Italian punchy cheese like parmesan for flavor and texture – and some cheddar, no questions asked. My plan is to take it up a notch with some crispy pancetta in thrown in for good measure.

From what I can gather you make the mac and cheese, stick it in the fridge for 24 hours, carve it up into squares, breadcrumb it and then Deep fry it. I am thinking of serving this with a little homemade BBQ sauce on the side.

Hell of a party food, and could be a winner as a snack to go with wine and beer if we follow the dream of turning the coffee shop into a small wine bar in the evenings.

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