A Cheesy Winter Warmer from the Drunken Butcher

So it seems that winter is officially here, with its long dark nights and plummeting temperatures. Still, it’s a great excuse to start indulging in comforting, warming food – and having sampled the following recipe I can confirm that nothing is more comforting than Iain Devine’s Mac with Four Cheeses, Chicken & Chorizo. Iain - better known as The Drunken Butcher – hosts supper clubs at his home in Manchester and recently put on a menu themed entirely around cheese. This was far and away my favourite dish of the night and I’m happy to say that Iain has been kind enough to share it with us here!

The Drunken Butcher’s Mac with Four Cheeses, Chicken & Chorizo

Take 4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chop into roughly equal chunks and gently fry until cooked through and brown on the outside. As you're doing this cook 500g of macaroni as per the instructions on the packet, then drain. Remove the chicken from the pan but leave the oil. Add a large handful of diced chorizo and cook gently allowing all that wonderful bright red fat to come out. Once the chorizo is crispy but not burnt add about 100g of plain flour and stir until you have a nice smooth paste/roux studded with pieces of chorizo. How much flour you need is a matter of experience really, I’d start at about 100g, but feel free to add more or less, and add oil if required. Keep the paste moving/stirring to cook the flour out – it’ll start to smell slightly “biscuity”. If you’d like a bit more heat then a scant pinch of dried chilli flakes could go in now.

Keep adding milk to this in small amounts, stirring or whisking as you go to ensure it stays smooth. You'll probably need about 750ml of milk, but every time is slightly different. Once you've got a nice smooth sauce it’s time to add the cheeses. I add a regular packet of Philadelphia (others would work fine too) to keep the sauce creamy when hot, a decent chunk of a mild blue, Bleu d'Auvergne by choice, and a handful of sharp cheddar. If you fancy a spoonful of mustard could go in right now. Cook the sauce until it tastes good (adjust seasoning to your taste) and feels slightly too liquid (the starch in the pasta will thicken it as will baking the cheese).

Once that's melted into the sauce stir in the pasta and chicken making sure everything is coated and the chicken is evenly mixed through. Spoon this mixture into a greased oven dish, leave to cool. Mix an equal quantity of parmesan with white breadcrumbs. It’s important that you mix them together before adding to the dish. Sprinkle this mix evenly over the dish then bake in a pre-heated oven (180-190C) for around half an hour. You’re looking for a golden brown top with the odd pocket of cheese sauce bubbling up through it. It would be a very good idea to put the dish on a tray if it’s very full as it’s a lot easier to clean a tray than the oven!

Allow to stand for a few minutes as it’ll be ridiculously hot. While you’re waiting I’d suggest opening a very cold crisp white wine.

- Find out more about Iain and his supper clubs and events at thedrunkenbutcher.co.uk – and if you have a go at this lovely recipe then don’t forget to tweet your pictures to @icheeseawards so we can all admire your handiwork! The photo you see here of Iain’s dish was taken by the very talented Starlings Photography.