Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barefoot Thursdays: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

Make sure you write up your last will and testament. It's Barefoot Thursdays and time for a naughty treat that's dangerously decadent.... Join in and live dangerously with the rest of us.
It's not quite cool enough here for cheesy baked casseroles, but that didn't stop the Barefoot Bloggers from making one of Ina's most scrumptious dinners yet. And as far as macaroni and cheese go, this one is only just bad for you. Not particularly-extra-supremely bad for you, especially with just a few itty bitty tweaks. I won't tell you it's health food, but if you make a batch and eat a patch your pants will still latch.
I used half the bacon called for in the recipe, and then caramelized some onions in a bit of the drippings. I had to do that since the Quiet Man thinks that macaroni and cheese is boring. Fortunately, caramelized onions and bacon make everything taste fun! exciting! thrilling! superlative! Next I used a wee bit less butter, low fat milk, and not so much cheese as dear Ina would have liked. I also switched my cheese choices up a bit, since I'm cooking on a budget here folks. I swapped out swiss for the gruyere, parmesan for the blue (not on sale this week), and kept the cheddar. One important boost for this dish- I baked it a lot less than the recipe suggests. Long bakes can dry out mac and cheese, so I cook it just until the sauce is bubbling, then heat the broiler to finish the top.
Our lovely guests for dinner declared it the most divine macaroni and cheese in all of creation and then held me down (see why this recipe is so dangerous?) and made me promise to post the recipe here. So here it is-now go update your will and then get baking.
Money Saving Tips: This dish can cost a little or a lot- depending on which cheese you choose to use. I opted for what I could find on sale this week at the store, but that can change from week to week. Stay flexible in order to save some money, and you might just discover a cheesy winning combination in the process.
Grown Up Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Caramelized Onions
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa
Estimated Cost: $7.00 for six servings
Notes: If you take my fat saving suggestions, it works out to about 1/2 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 cup low fat milk, 2 ounces of cheese, and less that one slice of bacon per person. Pretty reasonable for a cheesy pasta dish.
1 lb. small shells pasta
4 slices bacon
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups hot milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded swiss cheese, divided
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (Japanese style bread crumbs) or regular white bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Cook pasta according to package directions, taking care to not over cook. Place pasta in buttered 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels, crumble and reserve. Wipe out saucepan with a paper towel and add onions-there should still be a little teensy bit of bacon grease in the pan. Cook onions over medium high heat, until nicely browned and caramelized, about 15 minutes. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for two minutes. Add warm milk and whisk until thickened, about two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of cheese; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cheese sauce and bacon to pasta in baking dish and mix well. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of each cheese, the bread crumbs, and basil, sprinkling evenly. Bake just until sauce bubbles, about 10 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil just until the breadcrumbs on top are nicely toasted, about 4 minutes.
Coming Tomorrow:
Cat's Pajama's Oven Baked Cajun Fries

60 comments:

Andrea said...

Oh Prudy, that looks wonderful! As I was purchasing my pricey cheeses I wondered what you were going to do with this one, break the bank or go with less expensive cheeses, can you believe I was thinking of you while grocery shopping? :) I love your swiss and parmesan along with the cheddar, I am going to try that combo for sure, my husband is a huge swiss cheese fan (of all things haha) and he does like cheddar and parmesan so I think we'd have a winner with your recipe. Thank you for sharing!

Katherine Aucoin said...

Wow, I'm first? Whoo Hoo! Your mac-n-cheese definitely looks like a crowd pleaser and I think I will give it a try. I make a similar version but get just a tad bit naughtier and add a couple of links of chorizo.

The Blonde Duck said...

Yum! It looks great! I think kids might even eat that! :)

Kirsten said...

I love your version with the onions. I make a lot of mac and cheese and have never added onions, I think I might next time! Thanks for the great idea.

Mary Ann said...

Love your changes to this one-It looks scrumptious! I made your whole wheat hamburger buns last night to go with my updated, healthy sloppy joe recipe and those buns were so good and super simple! I will never buy them from the store again. I mean, they were soft and so tasty. We were all singing your praise at the dinner table last night, along with The Barefoot Contessa.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I want to eat that right now. Really I do!

Mary said...

I'm hooked. I'm doomed to spending the rest of my life of the treadmill.
This really sounds delicious.

Mary

Summer said...

I love your adaptations! The grilled onions sound amazing.

Mandi (a.k.a MissMandiGirl) said...

Oh yummo!!! This one looks so tasty, my girls are going to LOVe this one :)

Jeena said...

I don't eat bacon but I sure would try this dish without it.

Prudy this is so grown up comfort food. I love the look of those browned onions, delish.

You cooked this mac and cheese perfect the topping looks lovely!

Candy said...

Oh man that looks so good to me. So much better than the Kraft in the box I made!

gigi said...

My family loves my mac and cheese but is is loaded with calories. I usually only make it at holidays. This one I could make once a week. To the combo of onion and the bacon would really put it over the top! Shelby would eat this. She loves bacon.

I have a question for ya to ask your P/T. I'll e-mail ya.

Maria said...

what a comforting dish! It looks like a family pleaser for sure!

Peter M said...

Prudy, nuthin' like sportin' Speedos and eating a big bowl of Mac n'Cheese!

Natashya said...

I love the caramelized onions and parmesan version. Am I terrible to think that this would be nice with steak?
Wonderful mac, I will be right over to help you with the leftovers.

1freshstart said...

Oh, that looks great! I just did my plain old mac and cheese that I always make. I wasn't feeling the bacon and blue.
~The Cat's Pajamas

Catherine said...

This looks so good. Not at all like the Macaroni and Cheese that I know. I can't wait to try your healthier and pennywiser version.

Anne said...

It looks wonderful and I love your suggestions! Great job!

jenjen said...

Oh Prudy --

I am so making this tonight -- I even have all of the ingredients. My children will be in heaven. Thank you!

Amy said...

This looks GREAT! I love homemade mac and cheese.

Melissa said...

This is definitely dangerous. I'm thankful we have Trader Joe's around here and the cheeses were reasonably priced!

Bridgett said...

This sounds delicious with the caramelized onions and the bacon! If I am craving a cheesy pasta dish, then I think it is never to hot out to fire up the oven. I could use a comfort dish right about now.

Esi said...

Yum yum YUM!! I really love mac and cheese with onions. Yours looks so great!

Karleen said...

Mac and cheese is my favorite and I'm always looking for ways to make it less bad for you. I'm for sure going to try your tips. And add those carmelized onions...yum!

Jess said...

Your version looks fantastic - and if I'd seen your post first, I could have saved some pennies (and my gallbladder)! Yum!

Amy said...

O my goodness!! My knees are knocking and have gone to jello! This recipe looks amazing! I am copying and printing as we speak!!

1215656559s20768 said...

Lovin' those caramelized onions and bacon together. Some smoked cheddar might be nice.-Lorie

CECIL said...

All things I love in one dish. Cheese, bacon, caramelized onions!!

MK and Co. said...

This recipe really takes mac and cheese to a new level. The onions look amazing!

Debinhawaii said...

Great job in making it more economical and a bit healthier too! I also love the carmelized onion idea--that would have added another level! Great job and lucky dinner guests!

Cynthia's Blog said...

I should not even have bothered to bake mine. I like my mac and cheese right off the stove. Next time I don't follow the directions. I listen to myself.

Beth said...

I have to add bacon for my hubby!!! This sounds so good. You can't beat mac and cheese

Sara said...

This mac 'n cheese looks so good. Great ideas for spicing up my family recipe. I want to experiment now!

Ali said...

so much for my diet! lol. I LOVE home made mac and cheese and this look fabulous!

Dawn said...

Panko bread crumbs! I never would have thought to use them. Good idea chicklet.

Suzie said...

I love the idea of adding caramelized onion - I'm with your husband on that one. Your food looks great as usual. Any room for guests?

Christine said...

This looks delicious! I think I need you to take me shopping with you and teach me all of your tricks! Love the caramelized onions will have to use that next time!

The Farmer's Wife said...

Your Mac and Cheese looks amazing! Thanks for your comments...I am excited to be a Barefoot Blogger!

The Wilkes Week said...

Prudy,

I didn't mention this in my post but I switched out the Blue Cheese for Gorgonzola (Blue Cheese is just too strong for us). I love the idea of the carmelized onions - yum!
Leigh Anne @ www.yourhomebasedmom.com

Brooke said...

I love your twist on recipes. I am never that brave. Thanks for welcoming me to the group.

Bellini Valli said...

I love the inclusion of the caramelized onions in place of the bacon.

hot garlic said...

Great changes! I love those cheeses so I bet it turned out even more scrumptious that the recipe called for. I love to SLIM down a recipe too, most just seem to add butter and whole milk and cream like they are actual nourishing ingredients. I find I rarely miss what I've cut out.

And the bio on it was as hilarious as ever!

Rebecca said...

Mmmm, these substitutions make so much sense to me. I'm kicking myself for adding the blue cheese. Pricey, and we were not fans. But caramelized onions and Parm? Oh, yesss.

Pamela said...

The mac and cheese looks lovley, but those ONIONS...OMG!! I think I need a napkin.

Michal said...

mac and cheese (the real thing, of course) is my weakness. my achilles tendon. my trigger to gluttony. i'm going to save this recipe to try on some crisp fall day when i've been working out A LOT! (i appreciate you lightening it, but there's a good chance that i'll eat most of it myself over the course of three days, so it's still a splurge!)
my mouth is watering.

taffi said...

oh my.... this does look divine.

Emily said...

Prudy thanks for the updated version! I am not a huge blue cheese fan plus we have to go to the "big city" to find cheese other than cheddar, swiss, and parm! This sounds especially good for "curl up in a blanket cold nights!"

Marie said...

That looks fabulous Erin! I have all the BC books and really need to cook more out of them. I do a lot of recipes from them at work, and they are always delicious!

Grace said...

i could've gone for a massive bowl of this when it was 45 degrees the other day. i miss summer already. :)

Leslie said...

Oh that is some SERIOUS Mac and Cheese! It would for me to even eat ONE bite!!

Veronica said...

Way to go with a healthier version! I actually used Swiss Cheese too-the Gruyere in my supermarket was $11.00 for 6 ounces! Yikes!

Veronica said...

Way to go with a healthier version! I actually used Swiss Cheese too-the Gruyere in my supermarket was $11.00 for 6 ounces! Yikes!

Meryl said...

I'm thinking the onion is probably going to be an addition the next time I make this recipe--yum!

sliceofsueshe said...

this looks deeeelicious. and i like your lowfat & low cost suggestions. as much as i'd love to try gruyere, i can't bring myself to buy it because of the cost. i would have to keep the blue cheese though. i just love that tangy cheese. oh and those carmelized onions! yum!

Aggie said...

Oh my...your mac and cheese looks unbelievable delicious. I love all the changes you made. Great job!!

Aggie said...

Oh and thanks for the tip about not cooking it as long...I made a baked mac and cheese last summer and it was DRY, I felt horrible serving it. I now know...

Jaime said...

now that's what i call comfort food

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

"caramelized onions and bacon make everything taste fun! exciting! thrilling! superlative!" Prudy, you crack me up. Glad this worked out so well for all involved.

jessbcuz said...

As I love mac & cheese as much as my kids, I know I'll be trying your version when the weather gets a bit cooler here. As much as I love Ina's recipes, I love your changes on the cheese more because tracking down that Guyere sometimes takes a special stop.....
Thanks for posting your changes!

Heather B said...

oh that looks delicious! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Great job!