When the coffee shop Christmas menus were first announced back at the start of November, there was one offering that stood out. Costa is doing a mac n cheese with pigs n blankets, and my first thought was YES.
The calories aren’t so bad, clocking in at 632 cals for a box of cheesy, bacon-y goodness, but the portion is kinda small (not a criticism really, have it for lunch and you’d be set).
It got me thinking, though. I love mac and cheese. I love pigs in blankets. I love not leaving the comfort of my own home and going to Costa. So could I make my own version with fewer calories? Reader, the answer is yes (wouldn’t be much of a post if I couldn’t now would it?!)
(Full credit goes to Costa for the idea)
Serves 2 | Per serving: 615 calories | 32g fat | 44.5g carbs | 37g protein | 8.5g sugar
- 140g macaroni pasta (shape really doesn’t matter, so go ahead and use whatever you’ve got in – just live with the guilt that penne n cheese is not a thing).
- 4 chipolatas (I used Tesco’s finest Cumberland chipolatas because I’m fancy)
- 2 smoked bacon rashers, fat trimmed
- a few handfuls of frozen leaf spinach
- 60g reduced fat cheddar (I used Tesco’s 30% reduced fat extra mature cheddar cheese – I swear I am not sponsored by Tesco, although if you’re reading big T, hit me up)
- 15g grated Grana Padano (or Parmesan)
- 10g golden breadcrumbs (mine was from Co Op)
- 1tsp oregano
- 300ml skimmed milk
- 15g plain flour
- 15g Clover (it doesn’t really matter what kind of spread you use, I used Clover because it was what I had in)
- First up, grill your sausages for however long the pack suggests, or until cooked through (this should take about 10-15 minutes)
- Trim as much fat off your bacon as you can. The best thing for doing this is a pair of kitchen scissors. Cut into little squares, then mist a frying pan with Frylight before frying the bacon on a low heat until cooked through. When done, drain on a piece of kitchen roll.
- Cook the macaroni pasta as per packet instructions (boiling water, saucepan, 10 or so minutes – you’ve cooked pasta before, right?!)
- Snip up the sausages – but be sure to use different scissors to the ones you used for the raw bacon. Food hygiene, people!
- Cook the spinach in the microwave as per the package instructions (mine took about 3 minutes)
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and transfer to a bowl. Add the bacon and cooked sausages.
- Add the butter to the same (now empty) pan you cooked the pasta in. Set over a low heat and stir until melted. Doing this on a low heat is important because otherwise it will bubble up and reduce to nothing very quickly.
- When the butter has melted, add the flour little bit by little bit and stir quickly to form a roux (posh talk for something akin to a paste).
- Slowly add the milk bit by bit, still stirring continuously, until you have a smooth sauce. Add half of the cheddar and the spinach, mix well and then season with a twist of salt and pepper and the oregano. Mix the sauce with the macaroni mix.
- Spritz Frylight on your oven dish (this will help to stop it from sticking), then add everything to the dish. Mix Parmesan and the breadcrumbs.
- Top the dish with the rest of the grated cheddar and the breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake at 180 for around 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Serve with salad, if you like, although it is pretty perfect just the way it is.