French Onion Mac and Cheese
This is one of those pasta recipes where your friends and family will just keep coming back for more. The sauce is rich and creamy (but not heavy) and the combination of caramelized onions and crisp panko breadcrumbs lead to texture (and flavor) explosions!
- one batch caramelized onions* (see recipe below)
- 1 box whole wheat pasta
- equal parts beef broth and water for boiling (~3 cups each)
- 1 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- CARAMELIZED ONIONS
- 2 lb. onions
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- pinch of salt
Preparation time 20mins
Cooking time 80mins
Adapted from simpledish.com
Trim off the ends of 2 lb. onions (I used yellow) and cut them in half from top to bottom. Then slice them thinly, it doesn't matter which direction. Place onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cover, stirring every five minutes or so, until they dry out and begin to stick to the bottom of the pan (approx. 15-20 minutes).
Add 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil to the onions and toss to coat, along with a large pinch of salt. and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions uncovered, stirring occasionally until they turn a rich caramel brown, anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes (I went the whole 40). As they cook, add a tiny bit more oil if you need to keep them from sticking to the pan, no more than an additional 2 tbsp, or lower the heat on the stove-top. Once cooked to desired brownness, remove from heat and let cool and store for up to 1 week in the fridge.
MAC AND CHEESE
Preheat the oven to 400 F and boil pasta in beef broth and water, according to package directions, leaving a little al dente since it will finish up in the sauce in the oven.
For the sauce: melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute (but don’t let it turn brown).
Slowly whisk in milk, stirring constantly to remove any clumps. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes or until thickened slightly.
Reduce heat to low and whisk in Gruyere cheese until melted, then remove from heat until ready to use.
Drain pasta, then combine with sauce and caramelized onions in your pasta pot (the one you used to boil the noodles). Pour pasta mixture into a large cast iron skillet or a 9×9 inch casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and additional Gruyere cheese if desired.
Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. To achieved more browning, put under broiler for only a minute or two (Be sure to watch because it can burn quickly!).