A jazzed-up version of mac ’n’ cheese with smoky bacon, corn and fluffy gnocchi, this dish will hit the spot on a cold night.
1 tablespoon olive oil
95 grams butter
1 red onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
250 grams smoky streaky bacon, roughly chopped
4½ tablespoons plain flour
3½ cups milk
1 cup cream
¾ cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
⅓ cup grated parmesan
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus extra for topping
700 grams purchased potato gnocchi
400 grams tinned corn kernels, drained
⅓ cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used sourdough)
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme, to garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Heat the olive oil and 20 grams of the butter in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry over a low heat until soft. Increase the heat, add the smoked paprika and bacon and fry until bacon is golden and crispy, then set aside.
Melt the remaining 75 grams of butter in a large, heavy-based ovenproof saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Keep stirring and gradually add the milk, cream, chicken stock and bay leaf. Stir constantly until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and stir through the cheeses.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi, cook for 2 minutes then drain.
Add the bacon mixture to the cheese sauce along with the corn and gnocchi. Season with salt and cracked pepper. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and extra cheddar cheese.Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Garnish with thyme leaves before serving, if desired.