Valentine Warner's Alpine Macaroni

Malvern Autumn Show - Valentine Warner - Alpine Macaroni.jpg
27th August 2018

Alpine Macaroni

Try this delicious dish by chef Valentine Warner, it will serve four.  

YOU WILL NEED

  • 250g Aged Gruyere cheese, normal will suffice
  • 25g butter
  • 1Tablespoon plain white flour
  • 200ml Reisling wine
  • 1Generous Teaspoon German mustard
  • 150ml Single cream
  • large-flaked sea salt
  • 150g rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 300g dried macaroni
  • 2 cloves garlic

CRISP ONIONS

  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 200ml Vegetable oil (or enough to cover the bottom of your pan with 1cm of oil)

APPLE SAUCE

  • 3 Cox, Russet or Braeburn apples
  • 125ml water
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • white wine vinegar

Grate all the cheese and leave to one side. Take a large non-stick saucepan (for washing-up purposes) and melt the butter, not allowing it to burn.Add the flour to the pan and, using a whisk, thoroughly blend the two. (Using a whisk side-steps sifting the flour and ensures a lump-free sauce.) After the flour has foamed for about 20 seconds (do not let it brown), start adding the wine bit by bit. At first it will clag up, but don’t be alarmed; keep on dribbling it in and whisking, and soon a velvety emulsion will start to evolve. Finish adding the wine. Introduce the cheese to the sauce and whisk it in until melted, followed by the mustard and cream. Season with salt and put to one side.

For the apple sauce, peel the apples, remove the cores and chop the flesh into small pieces. Put the apples in a pan with the water, sugar and a splash of white wine vinegar. Simmer, partially covered with a lid, until the apples have completely collapsed. Blend or mash to a purée and leave to one side.

While the apples are cooking, attend to the onions. Peel them and cut them in half, top to bottom. Lie them on their flat side and cut the thinnest slivers you can across the onion. Thinness is essential. If your stomach knots with impatience, take a deep breath and re-apply yourself. Thin, thin, thin.

In a frying pan, heat the oil until it’s hot enough to immediately frizzle one of your onion slices.Add half the onion slices, making sure they are not piled up but spread evenly over the pan. Regulate the heat if they start colouring too fast, and continually move them around the pan to ensure even cooking.Watch them intently. The desired result is dark golden onions. There will be blackened onions here and there, but this is to be expected.When they have achieved this colouring, after about 4-5 minutes, immediately lift them from the oil with a slotted spoon to a waiting area of kitchen paper. Resting here, they will drain and become totally crisp. If they are not, you have either cooked all the onions together, as instructed not to, or you have panicked and taken them out too early. Repeat all this with the second batch of onions. As this is the only refined element to this dish, take time. It’s fiddly, but the end result is worth it. Leave to one side. Do not pour used oil down the sink.

Cut the bacon into 1cm strips and add them to the cleaned frying pan.

Add a tiny bit of oil just to get the bacon going. Fry until it is nearly crisp. Transfer to more kitchen paper.

Nearly there. Put water on to boil for the macaroni. Put the cheese sauce on a low gas and slowly bring it to heat, not letting it catch. Do the same with the apple sauce. Put the macaroni into boiling water with a big pinch of salt and cook until it is done. Al dente is nothing to do with this dish. The macaroni wants to be cooked through, but not so that it’s mushy.

Remove the cheese sauce from the heat. Drain the macaroni thoroughly, then add it to the sauce.Add the bacon and garlic (leave it out if it is nothing short of exceptional) and mix well. Turn the whole lot into an appropriate serving pot. Scatter the onions all over the top, but do not mix them in. Put the lid on the pot and take it to the table. Eat immediately with a large spoonful of hot apple sauce dolloped in the middle of each serving and then retire to the sofa and fall asleep with a newspaper over your head.