My recipe for Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Chestnuts Macaroni Cheese is a must try this winter season! It is the ultimate comfort food, full of seasonal touches that is known to please even the most avid brussels sprouts haters!
We do love Brussels sprouts in our house and by "we" I mean myself and hubby. As one would expect kids are not so keen to say the least. What they don't know is that their clever mummy tends to sneak this delicious winter veg into number of different dinner offerings with them being none the wiser!
Take this Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Chestnuts Macaroni Cheese for example. It is packed full of hated brussels sprouts but they absolutely love it! Initially, I had to resort to little white lie and say that green bits are leeks, which they are fine with, but now they do know the real ingredient and their love for this winter macaroni cheese hasn't diminished!
There is so much to love about this dish! It's comforting, cheesy, full of seasonal ingredients and really easy to make too. I love how using certain ingredients can transform a simple dish like macaroni and cheese into something seasonal and that little bit extra special too! I managed to achieve that before with my Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese.
Brussels sprouts, bacon and chestnuts are classic combination that is well tried and tested and gives this dish its festive and wintery feel with different flavours and textures. That lovely bit of sweetness and crunch from chestnuts, smoky flavour from bacon and good old sprouts, work so well together! All that in a lovely, creamy cheese sauce with some pasta... Mmm, yum!
Preparing, freezing and other practical info.
You can easily prepare Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Chestnuts Macaroni Cheese in advance and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it (add extra 10 minutes to timings stated in the recipe below if baking from chilled).
This dish is also super freezer friendly so simply cover your baking dish tightly with some cling film followed by aluminium foil and pop in the freezer. If making this specifically for freezing I would suggest undercooking your pasta a bit so that you don't end up with mushy mess later and also adding more cheese sauce (1.5 instead of 1 quantity from the recipe below). This way when you cook your macaroni cheese from frozen and pasta soaks up lots of sauce when cooking, you won't end up with dry and flavourless dinner.
Cook your macaroni cheese from frozen (make sure you remove the cling film first!) for approx 1-1.5 hrs (start checking for doneness from 1 hr). It should be piping hot in the middle. You can also defrost it in the fridge overnight and cook as you would from chilled.
As you can imagine this macaroni cheese is very filling and little really goes a long way so if you are left with any leftovers, you can enjoy some for lunch the following day!
Some other seasonal dishes you might enjoy:
Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Chestnuts Macaroni Cheese
- 300 g macaroni pasta or your favourite pasta shapes
- 300 g brussel sprouts tougher, outer leaves removed, shredded or sliced very thinly
- 90 g pack smoked bacon or pancetta
- 100 g cooked chestnuts chopped
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 40 g plain flour
- 600 ml full fat milk
- 200 g mature cheddar
- 1 tsp mustard powder optional
- salt, pepper, olive oil
- 30 g breadcrumbs
- 30 g grated parmesan
- handful cooked and chopped chestnuts optional
- Prepare your brussels sprouts and chestnuts as per instructions above.
- Boil large pan of salted water and cook pasta according to packet instructions or couple of minutes less for more al dente version (it will cook some more in the oven). Drain and set aside.
- While your pasta is cooking pour a small glug of oil into large frying or casserole style pan and add smoked bacon or pancetta together with shredded brussels sprouts. Fry until sprouts start to soften for approx 8-10 min. Add chopped chestnuts and set aside.
- To prepare your cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter on a low heat and add flour mixing vigorously until you get paste like consistency (roux). Add milk and mustard powder and mix gently over low heat until mixture starts to thicken. Next add grated cheddar cheese and mix it in. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Add cooked macaroni to the sprouts, bacon and chestnuts mixture and follow with the cheese sauce. Mix well.
- Prepare your crispy topping by mixing together some breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese. You can also add some more chopped chestnuts if you wish.
- Transfer your macaroni into large baking dish and sprinkle over breadcrumbs parmesan mix. Bake in the preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for approximately 20-30 min until hot and golden on top.
- Serve with some green salad or seasonal vegetables. Enjoy!
- Calories are approximate, per portion and as guidance only.
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