Serves 6, allegedly
This was so good that I made the recipe for 6 and three of us ate three quarters of it i.e. 50% more than we should have done.
I cooked it in a large, straight-sided frying pan of about 14? diameter that could also be put in the oven. If you don’t have one then a roasting tin or lasagne dish will do. I’m lazy about washing up so happy to skip a pan if possible.
2 Tins of tuna in brine, drained
250g pasta, boiled for 10 – 12 minutes until al dente
Corn or rape seed oil for frying
1 large tin chopped toms
1 stick celery, chopped
1 onion chopped
1 pepper, any colour, chopped
4 large mushrooms chopped
Half a chilli including seeds
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2oz (50g) butter
2.5oz (60g) plain flour
2 (1 litre) pints milk
6oz (150g) grated mature cheddar
Half a teaspoon English made mustard
2 Slices of wholemeal bread whizzed into crumbs mixed with 2 – 4 oz (50 – 100g) grated mature cheddar
Pre-heat oven to gas 5 / 375f /190c
Fry all the veg, apart from the tomatoes, in the frying pan until the onion is soft.
Add the tin of tomatoes, the garlic and the fish sauce and pepper, then stir in the cooked pasta and the tuna. Leave to cool while you make the sauce.
Melt the butter gently until liquid and stir in the flour to form a smooth paste (take it off the heat at first to blend) cook slowly for a minute, stirring all the time.
Increase the heat under the pan and pour in a a dosh of the milk, whisking constantly until blended, then start using a wooden spoon to make sure to bring in the thickening sauce from the corners of the pan. As soon as the sauce starts to thicken, reduce the heat a little to prevent burning. If lumps start to form, remove from heat and get rid of them with the whisk.
When the sauce is thickened, stir in the cheese and mustard, taste and season if necessary.
The sauce needs to be quite thick. It should move, but slowly in the tilted pan. Use the remaining milk to adjust the consistency.
Putting it together.
Pour the sauce to cover the base, then top with the breadcrumbs/cheese.
You can leave it now until you need it. Chill it if necessary.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, possible a little longer from chilled.
Serve with salad.