Friday, March 27, 2009

Down Home Comfort

I love macaroni and cheese, there is just something about pasta and gooey cheese that makes my mouth water and tingle with anticipation. I have tried what seems like 850 different macaroni and cheese recipes and I have yet to find the "one".

This is one that I tried a few months back for one of our Sunday night dinner dates. Not sure if I have ever mentioned our dinner dates before but I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoy them. Since Daniel works second shift during the week that means we don't have the normal sit down dinners like most married couples have. It also doesn't help that Saturday nights are dedicated to the family dinners, which by the way, I wouldn't trade for the world. Due to the fact that 6 of the 7 nights of the week are taken, I put into affect several months ago that Sunday nights would be our date nights. We would plan a special meal, usually something we have never tried before, and together we would prepare and cook it. There is just something special about standing next to your special someone in the kitchen preparing a special meal. Lord help me when this man ships off to Afghanistan for a year.

Anyway, I made this a few months ago to go along with Daniel's baked cod recipe. It was super yummy and definitely different from your standard mac and cheese. It has lots of ingredients and lots of steps so this probably won't be a weeknight recipe for you, but give it a shot sometime on the weekend and I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
4 cups grated Asiago cheese
4 cups grated Vermont Cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

1.) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add macaroni and cook for 8 minutes (noodles will still be slightly hard). Drain noodles and transfer to a large bowl with 1/4 cup of butter and toss to coat. Whisk together the sour cream, egg, and cream cheese; add to the pasta and mix well. Stir in 3 cups of grated Asiago and 3 cups of grated Cheddar cheese, reserving the remaining 2 cups of cheese for the topping.

2.) Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate and chop into small pieces.

3.) Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

4.) Stir 2 tablespoons butter, the onion, and garlic into the bacon drippings in the pan and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are very soft and golden brown. Mix the cooked bacon, parsley, and panko breadcrumbs into the onions, transfer mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

5.) Return the skillet to the heat and melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, and stir until the mixture becomes paste-like and light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk the milk into the flour mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook and stir until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Stir in the ground mustard, paprika, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Remove sauce from heat and let cool for five minutes.

6.) Pour the sauce over the macaroni mixture, stirring well. Transfer to a greased 9x13 inch pan and sprinkle with the remaining 2 cups of Cheddar cheese. Top cheese with the onion breadcrumb mixture.

7.) Bake in preheated oven until bubbling, hot and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Now folks, I realize that this is not very figure friendly, but when you are in need of comfort sometimes you just have to push that thought aside.



Lissaloo said...

That sounds, and looks, wonderful! The new background is cute :)

Melissa said...

Ooooh! Sounds super yummy, especially with the bacon!

Coleen's Recipes said...

YUM! This takes mac & cheese to a whole new level! Love the picture of your dogs on the couch.