As anyone who knows me will tell you: I’m obsessed with cheese. My love affair started at an early age and was filled with string cheese, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and cheese whiz. Over the years, however, my pallet seems to have shifted to more expensive “sophisticated” $25 a pound cheeses.
Chris and I decided to bring back some childhood coziness by making an adult version of mac and cheese last night. We were alone for the holidays and both seeking the comforts of home. Using Pioneer Woman’s Mac and Cheese recipe as a base, we started by making it gluten-free (elbow shaped rice noodles) and then added a few extras: crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and breadcrumbs. To class it up even further, we choose finer cheeses including a nice white sharp cheddar and gruyere.
As soon as it came out of the oven we both burned the top of our mouths on the first bite. After a few minutes of cooling, it was gone in one swoop!
Best Homemade Mac & Cheese adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
~ 4 cups dry macaroni (I used gluten-free rice pasta)
~ 1 egg
~ ¼ cup butter
~ ¼ cup all-purpose flour (I used white rice flour)
~ 2 ½ cups whole milk
~ 2 tsp dry mustard
~ ½ lb gruyere cheese, freshly grated
~ ½ lb white sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
~ salt and pepper to taste
~ 1 lb bacon
~ 4 pieces of gluten-free bread
~ 1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced (for caramelized onions)
~ 2 tbsp butter (for caramelized onions)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
When oven is heated, place bacon on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Your bacon maybe done sooner or later depending on the bacon thickness. Set aside and crumble when cool. (Leave oven at 350°F).
First, cook macaroni according to manufacturer’s instructions. I always add a little salt to the water to give the macaroni more flavors.
In a sauté-pan, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add sliced onions and cook for 10 minutes until golden, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
While macaroni is cooking, lightly beat egg in a small sized dish. Add butter to a large pot and melt over medium-low heat. Slowly whisk in flour and stir until no flour chunks remain (about 5 minutes). Pour milk into pot and whisk in mustard. Cook for 5 minutes until sauce has thickened. Reduce heat to low.
To temper the egg, slowly (very slowly) add ¼ cup of the sauce to the egg while whisking continuously. Once combined, pour egg mixture into the sauce mixture and stir.
Add cheese (reserving ½ cup) to the sauce and stir until melted. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Combine sauce with pasta and caramelized onions.
Toast 4 pieces of bread and coarsely chop with a food processor.
Spread pasta in a buttered casserole dish. Top with reserved ½ cup cheese, bacon, and breadcrumbs. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Inhale!!