Winter Carboration! Grandma Style Mac & Cheese
You will not find this recipe in any weight loss or healthy living diet plan. Proceed at your own risk.
Winter is right around the corner. I love it! The darkened months here in Wisconsin are the time of year it is okay to go to bed at 8:00 pm (it has already been dark for almost four hours). Winter is the time of year we actually have time to catch up with long lost friends, whittle down the stack of books on our reading list, or binge watch our favorite show series and movies while still getting a solid eight hours of sleep.
Winter is the time when, in theory, we should be eating the healthiest, building the energy needed to fuel our tank for our addiction to winter sports: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, extreme downhill sledding at Peninsula State Park (hill climbing). We all try to do our best to stay on track with this plan, right? Then why, in these months of darkness accompanied by extra couch surfing, do we crave comfort food more than any other time of year?
My theory is fairly straightforward. We live in the Midwest — high-carb food tastes better (and feels better in our bellies) when there is snow on the ground. When dreaming about snow-filled days and writing up a comfort food menu, the first thing that came to mind was macaroni and cheese. Not the out-of-the-box kind, but the kind grandma used to make: baked in the oven, ooey, gooey, cheesy, stick-to-your-ribs mac and cheese. I would not recommend eating this every day, but when you do, savor every bite.
Grandma Style Mac & Cheese
Serves six to eight
There are many steps to bringing this dish together. I would recommend prepping the ingredients and have things ready to go before getting started.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F
- Grate the cheese (½ lb white cheddar & ½ lb Monterey Jack or farmers)
- Cook 1 lb bacon and slice into small pieces
- Cook 1 lb elbow macaroni al dente, drain and set aside
- Dice 1 bunch of scallions, green part included
½ loaf of stale crusty bread
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
sprinkle of salt
Cut the crusty bread into chunks and place into a food processor. Pulse the bread until it forms a crumb consistency. In a sauté pan melt the butter, add the breadcrumbs and seasoning. Stir until the crumbs are toasted. Set aside. (You can always use Panko or other store bought breadcrumbs as your topping.)
In a sauté pan melt four tablespoons butter, add two diced yellow onions. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 – 20 minutes until the onions are translucent. Set aside.
4 Tbsp butter
2 – 3 Tbsp flour
sprinkle of salt
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Whisk in a tablespoon of flour at a time until the butter and flour combine to make a dry paste. Moving quickly, whisk in one pint of heavy whipping cream. Bring to a slow boil. Slowly whisk in the prepped grated cheese. Add nutmeg. Whisk continuously until a creamy cheese sauce is formed. Salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked macaroni, cheese sauce, bacon and caramelized onions. Mix well. Transfer to a glass or ceramic baking dish.
Sprinkle the scallions over the noodles. Add the breadcrumbs to the top of the dish.
Bake uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes. You know it is done when the cheese sauce is bubbling on the sides of the baking dish and the breadcrumbs are toasted brown.