Comforting Comfort Food: Grown-up Mac and Cheese

If it weren’t for comfort foods, I probably would never have to exercise again! Okay, not really. But why is it that the foods Americans so often refer to as “comfort foods” always include pasta, bread, cheese and/or gravy!??!  Not the healthiest choices by far, but I am definitely an “everything in moderation” kind of girl! This recipe is one of my very favorites.  I mean, how can something with cheese, caramelized onions, bacon and wine be wrong??

This recipe uses one of my favorite cheeses, Gruyere.  Gruyere is a hard, yellow cheese.  It is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming more earthy as it ages. It is a great melting cheese and is often used in fondues, quiches, and on French onion soup.  

It also calls for an ingredient that surprises some people, nutmeg.  I use nutmeg in many savory dishes including my chili for an added depth to the flavor that will have people asking what they are tasting. Nutmeg is the hard, brown seed from the nutmeg tree which is a tropical evergreen tree.  Most cooks prefer to grate it fresh from the seed.  The seed should be stored in an airtight container, away from heat, moisture and sunlight.  Though there is some disagreement about storing dry spices in the freezer because they may lose potency, I do store my nutmeg seeds and my ginger root in the freezer.  I pull them out and grate them fresh whenever I need them.  I store them for many months, and have not noticed either losing any flavor or aroma.

 

 

Grown-up Mac and Cheese

1lb pasta – I prefer a short cut textured pasta such as: spiral, gemelli, cellentani, penne rigate that can grab onto the cheese

1T Olive Oil – I use my favorite Picholine from a local shop The Olive Twist (www.theolivetwist.com)
1/2lb Bacon, chopped
2 Medium Onions, thinly sliced
1/2C Wine (a dry white is great, but use whatever favorite white or blush you have on hand to drink)
2T Butter
2T Flour
1C Milk
1C Chicken Broth
2C Gruyere, shredded (regular Swiss would work fine, I just like the nuttiness of Gruyere and how well it melts)
1/2t nutmeg, fresh grated
2-3 drops Hot Sauce
1T Spicy brown or Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper
Cook pasta as directed on package to al dente.  Don’t overcook because the pasta will continue to cook in the sauce.

While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a pan.        Crisp the bacon in the olive oil. Remove the            bacon, reserving the oil and bacon grease in          the pan.

 

Add the onions and cook over medium heat until softened and just beginning to caramelize. Add the wine and reduce 1-2 minutes.  At this point, your kitchen will smell amazing!!

 

Add the onions and cook over medium heat until softened and just beginning to caramelize. Add the wine and reduce 1-2 minutes.

 

As the onions cook, in a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux. After a minute or two, whisk in the broth and milk.  Allow to thicken several minutes then add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.  Add a few drops of the hot sauce. Whisk in the mustard.

 

Remove from heat and stir in the shredded            cheese, a little at a time to melt into the sauce.

 

Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta and toss together. Serve with a leafy green salad and crusty bread…and a glass of the wine you opened, of course!

 

Comforting Comfort Food: Grown-up Mac and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1lb pasta - I prefer a short cut textured pasta such as: spiral, gemelli, cellentani, penne rigate that can grab onto the cheese
  • 1T Olive Oil - I use my favorite Picholine from a local shop The Olive Twist (www.theolivetwist.com)
  • ½lb Bacon, chopped
  • 2 Medium Onions, thinly sliced
  • ½C Wine (a dry white is great, but use whatever favorite white or blush you have on hand to drink)
  • 2T Butter
  • 2T Flour
  • 1C Milk
  • 1C Chicken Broth
  • 2C Gruyere, shredded (regular Swiss would work fine, I just like the nuttiness of Gruyere and how well it melts)
  • ½t nutmeg, fresh grated
  • 2-3 drops Hot Sauce
  • 1T Spicy brown or Dijon Mustard
  • Salt & Pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta as directed on package to al dente.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a pan.
  3. Crisp the bacon in the olive oil.
  4. Remove the bacon, reserving the oil and bacon grease in the pan.
  5. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until softened and just beginning to caramelize.
  6. Add the wine and reduce 1-2 minutes.
  7. As the onions cook, in a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux.
  8. After a minute or two, whisk in the broth and milk.
  9. Allow to thicken several minutes then add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  10. Add a few drops of the hot sauce.
  11. Whisk in the mustard.
  12. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese, a little at a time to melt into the sauce.
  13. Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta and toss together.

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