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In My Kitchen
by Annie Bell
I first heard of this pie from a New Yorker when it was doing the rounds of Manhattan as chic comfort food. It's a good option when you can't choose between macaroni and cheese or shepherd's pie.
• 2 tbsp peanut oil
• 3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 leek, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
• 2 stalks of celery heart, trimmed and thinly sliced
• 2 sprigs of thyme
• 1 lb 10oz ground lamb
• 2/3 cup red wine
• 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
• 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
• sea salt, black pepper
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus 1 tbsp melted
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 1/4 cups whole milk
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 cup sharp Cheddar, grated
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 cup macaroni
• 2 tbsp white breadcrumbs
• 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sweat the vegetables and thyme for about 8 minutes over a low heat until glossy and tender, stirring occasionally. Add the ground lamb, turn the heat up, and cook, stirring, until it changes color and separates. Add all the remaining ingredients listed under pie, bring to simmering, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. There should still be some juice; if there appears to be a lot of fat on the surface, skim the excess off. Check the seasoning, then transfer the ground lamb to a shallow ovenproof dish (an 8 x 10in roasting pan allows for plenty of golden surface), discard the thyme, and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. You can also prepare the pie to this point in advance, and then cover and chill it until required.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter for the macaroni in a medium-sized nonstick saucepan over medium heat, add the flour, and cook the roux for about 1 minute until it's floury in appearance and seething nicely. Remove from the heat and gradually work in the milk just a little at a time to begin with, using a wooden spoon. Return the bechamel to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until it thickens. Add the bay leaf and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf, stir in the grated Cheddar cheese and the mustard, and taste for seasoning. Bring the sauce back to a boil, stirring. Now liquidize it until really silky.
At the same time as cooking the sauce, bring a medium-sized saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni to the pan, give it a stir to separate the noodles, and cook until almost tender, leaving it slightly undercooked. Drain the macaroni thoroughly into a colander, then return it to the pan. Toss the macaroni with the sauce and pour on top of the pie.
Toss the breadcrumbs and Parmesan with the melted butter and scatter them over the top. Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and sizzling.
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