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WATCH: Top chefs Reuben Riffel and Luke Dale-Roberts fight it out in a mac ‘n cheese cook off!

Every home cook has their own tried-and-tested recipe. But who makes the best Mac 'n Cheese in the land? We asked top SA chefs Luke Dale-Roberts and Reuben Riffel to give it their best shot!

29 Sep 2017

What would world-class chefs Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen in Cape Town and Reuben Riffel of Reuben’s in Franschhoek do with a humble mac ’n cheese if they were to serve it in their restaurants?

Find out in #TestTheBestSA, a new video series that challenges South Africa’s top chefs to battle it out over simple dishes that we’d all love to see given a makeover.

Who took the honours? Watch all the action below.

Get the recipes:

Reuben Riffel’s butternut, bacon and mushroom mac and cheese
Serves 6

300g butternut
handful of sage
butter, for frying
4 Tbs butter, for cheese sauce 
1 cup milk
150g Grana Padano
80g emmenthal
1 chopped red onion
2 leeks
olive oil for frying
250 g bacon or pancetta
200g mushrooms
100g hazelnuts
2 eggs
1 cup cream
1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
500g macaroni
Salt and pepper
Boil water for the macaroni. Chop the butternut into small cubes and fry in butter with sage.
For the cheese sauce:
Melt butter, and wait until it turns ever so slightly brown. Add milk, while stirring, until smooth. Add half of the cheese into the sauce and stir until incorporated. Set aside.
For the mushrooms:
Fry the chopped red onion and leeks in butter and olive oil. Add bacon, then the mushrooms.
Chop and toast hazelnuts in a pan, with a little butter.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the cream. Stir in mustard and paprika. Add a small amount of the cheese sauce to the eggs, while stirring, to make a custard. Add the eggs back into the cheese sauce, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Mix the butternut, some of the bacon and mushroom mixture (keeping some aside for garnish), and cheese sauce with the pasta. Season to taste.
Pour into an oven-proof dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees. Garnish with the rest of the mushrooms, more grated Grana Padano and the toasted hazelnuts. Serve.

Luke Dale-Roberts’s cauliflower mac and cheese with sultana salsa

Serves 6

Parmesan and cauliflower foam: 
25g parmesan
400g cauliflower 
250ml cream
3 egg yolks 
Sultana salsa: 
2 tablespoons butter
50g sultanas 
100ml port 
50g toasted pine nuts
3 sage leaves, finely sliced
1 box rigatoni pasta
50g gruyère cheese
50g comté cheese

You will also need:
microplane or grater, Thermomix or blender, chinois, espuma gun, and oven-proof baking dish.

For the foam: Roughly chop cauliflower, place in a pan with cream and cook down. Microplane or grate parmesan onto grease-proof paper and bake until lightly golden for around 5 minutes. Set aside. Once water has cooked out from cauliflower, blend with the toasted parmesan in the Thermomix or blender on full for 7 minutes. Set aside 100ml, and blend 3 egg yolks into the remaining sauce. Pass through a chinois and pour into espuma gun, charge once and set aside.

Blanch rigatoni and drain, then coat in the cauliflower-parmesan sauce that was set aside earlier. Trim the base off each piece of pasta and stand them up next to each other in the oven-proof baking dish. Microplane the gruyère and comté to cover the pasta. Shake espuma gun and coat the pasta with the cauliflower-parmesan foam, until the grated cheese is no longer visible. Grill for 5 minutes or until brown.

For the salsa:
Steep the sultanas in port and set aside. In a hot pan, brown your butter and add capers, sultanas, thyme and pine nuts. Finish with sage.
Top the pasta bake with the salsa and serve.

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