Turkish macaroni cheese (firin makarna)
- January 2016
- Serves 8
- Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 40 min, plus resting
Hülya Erdal shares her mother’s recipe for this authentic Cypriot macaroni cheese recipe, complete with halloumi, lamb mince and cinnamon.
- 36.1g (19.7g saturated)
- 59g (5.4g sugars)
- 200g halloumi, grated
- 200g cheddar, grated
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 500g macaroni
- Olive oil for drizzling and frying
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 500g British lamb mince
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Handful fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp sweet red pepper paste (from Turkish grocers or good delis) or tomato paste
For the béchamel sauce
- 60g butter
- 75g plain flour
- 600ml milk
- 1 large free-range egg, beaten
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Mix the grated cheeses with the dried mint, then divide in half and put in 2 bowls. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain, rinse quickly with cold water, put back into the pan and toss in a little olive oil.
- Meanwhile heat a good splash of olive oil in a large, deep frying pan and fry the onion on a low-medium heat for around 8 minutes until softened and only just colouring.
- Add the mince, turn up the heat to medium-high and stir regularly to brown the meat. When nearly all the meat is browned, stir in the cinnamon, chopped parsley and pepper/tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
- To assemble the macaroni cheese, lightly oil a 2 litre ovenproof dish. Put half the pasta in the dish and sprinkle over one third of the cheese mixture from the first bowl. Add all the mince and sprinkle again with half the remaining cheese. Top with the rest of the pasta and, finally, the rest of the cheese from the first bowl.
- For the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a large pan slowly over a medium heat until starting to froth. Add the flour and start to whisk (the mixture will be a thick paste). Continue to cook until the paste turns golden and starts to smell biscuity. While vigorously whisking, slowly pour in the milk, keeping the mixture moving all the time to prevent lumps. Carry on whisking until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Take off the heat and whisk in the beaten egg. Return to the heat for a few seconds until it just starts to bubble.
- Add most of the second bowl of grated cheeses and the ½ tsp cinnamon to the sauce and stir until smooth. Pour the sauce over the top of the pasta and mince, making sure it spreads to the very edges by smoothing it over with a spatula. Top with the remaining cheese.
- Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for around 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sauce appears to have set. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
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