Thinking Thanksgiving? Caramelized Onion and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

4 Oct

Guys, don’t tell anyone, but homemade macaroni and cheese is actually really, really easy to make.  I’ve made this recipe before, and will probably make a very similar variety for Thanksgiving…this was a good test run before I make it again then.

Also, I realize this recipe calls for nearly a stick of butter and a whole box of pasta…it will feed a crowd, which is perfect for family dinner (we had some family over tonight) or Thanksgiving, but it can also be scaled down remarkably easily to serve one (that recipe is also at the end).

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Anyway, start your onions caramelizing and get some water into a saucepan to boil your pasta.  Also get your milk heating over low-medium heat in a saucepan on the stove.  This is also when I started grating cheese…lots of cheese (fun fact, pre-shredded in the bag cheese has cornstarch added to prevent clumping, so it doesn’t melt as ideally as hand-grated-from-the-block cheese).

You want to get everything ready before you start the roux:

  • get your macaroni cooked and drained and set aside
  • get all your cheese grated and pour in the salt and spices
  • ½ cup of flour ready
  • If your milk isn’t warm it’s not a big deal, but you definitely want to get it off the heat once it starts simmering.

Alright, got all that?  Good.  Now get your butter heating over medium heat in the biggest saucepan or stock pot you’ve got…I used a stockpot, btw.

Once it starts bubbling and foaming, sprinkle in your flour and start whisking!  Get all the flour covered in butter and keep it moving so it doesn’t burn for 2-3 minutes to cook the raw taste out of the flour.

Now whisk in your milk.  I didn’t get any pictures of this step because I only have two hands!  One was whisking and one was pouring…it will spatter a bit when you first start pouring, so be careful.

I added mine about a cup at a time and whisked it in until thick and smooth.  Don’t worry, if yours is lumpy, just keep whisking and it will smooth out.

Also, once all your milk is in, you don’t need to keep whisking constantly, but keep an eye on it and give it a few more good whisks.  It will thicken up in 2-3 minutes.

Once it’s thick (you will definitely be able to tell…it was hard to see in pictures though), remove from heat and whisk in your cheese and seasonings.

Once smooth, stir in your pasta.

Looks like macaroni and cheese, yes?

Now, you could just pour this into an 11×13 pan and throw it in the oven.  It will be good.

I poured half into the dish, then covered it with bacon and caramelized onions, and then the other half of the macaroni.  I completely forgot to take pictures though…fail.

Then into the 375 oven for ~30 minutes until your desired level of crispy top is reached.  I didn’t crisp mine up too much because the boyfriend is crazy and doesn’t like the crispy parts (I know!) (Also, I know my pictures are pretty terrible…the bad lighting combined with all the orange made for some really weird pics…)

There’s really not much that can go wrong making this…it’s cheese, butter and pasta, guys.  It’s pretty much going to be good no matter what.

So if you’re one of those people that typically eats macaroni and cheese out of the blue box, stop it!  And try this one out instead.  It is rich, creamy comfort food, and it’s easier than you might think!

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Caramelized Onion and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes an 11×13 dish of macaroni and cheese
1 lb. of elbow macaroni, cooked
4 cups of milk (I used 2 cups of 2% and 2 cups of skim, so I think you’ll be fine with whatever milk you’ve got)
6 T butter
½ cup flour
6 cups cheddar cheese (or any combination of whatever cheese you’ve got)
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 small yellow onion, caramelized
~ ½ cup cooked bacon, chopped (I used 7 pieces of the microwavable variety)

  • First, get your onions caramelizing, your cheese grated (and mix in the spices), your pasta cooked, and get your milk warming in a saucepan (just until hot, then remove from heat).  Also measure your flour and set aside.
  • Once you’ve got everything ready from above, preheat the oven to 375 F and get your butter melting in a stock pot (or LARGE saucepan) over medium heat.  Once the butter is bubbly and foaming, sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour in your milk about a cup at a time (it will spatter a bit), and whisk until smooth.  Once the milk is in, let it sit, stirring occasionally until thickened and smooth
  • Remove from heat and pour in shredded cheese with spice mixture.  Whisk until smooth.
  • Stir in cooked pasta
  • Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11×13 dish, then cover with caramelized onions and bacon and pour the rest of the macaroni and cheese mixture on top
  • Bake ~30 minutes, until desired amount of crispy top is reached.
  • Allow to cool before serving…it will be quite hot.

To serve one:  1 T butter, 1 T flour, ½ cup milk, ~1/2 cup cooked pasta, ¾ cup cheese (pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper)…bake in a ramekin or large oven safe mug for ~15 minutes (eventually I will do a more detailed explanation, but I’ve made this before and it works!)

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One Response to “Thinking Thanksgiving? Caramelized Onion and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Holly Silver Margason October 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    It was awesome, having some leftovers for lunch today also.

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