Beer Mac n Cheese

Last week, while perusing Pinterest, I spotted this picture:

It had the description: beer mac n cheese. I clicked and it took me to the blog, How Sweet it Is with the full recipe. The author compared the taste of it to beer and cheese soup and it looked nice and easy to make.

Now, I don’t love the typical mac n cheese. Cheese itself has never been one of my favorite foods, on its own. I like it on pizza and used in recipes, but eating it straight or a dish like mac n cheese has never really been my thing. But add in some beer and this is now a dish I could get along with!

I did adapt the recipe according to my tastes. Start the dish by cooking the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside. You can use whole wheat pasta in this recipe, it holds up to the cheese sauce well and makes the dish a bit healthier. While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

Once melted, add the diced onion and cook for about 5-7 minutes until translucent but not brown.

Add the flour and stir. Cook, stirring, until the mixture gets a nice golden color, about 2 minutes.

Add the milk, beer and cheeses, while stirring. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture thickens slightly. Add the paprika, nutmeg and pepper.

Pour the cheese over the noodles in a stir slightly.

Top with bread crumbs and some parmesan cheese and small pieces of butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. Top with sliced fresh basil.

Serve with a side of arugula tossed with vinaigrette.

The mac n cheese tasted good. The consistency was great with the whole wheat pasta and I enjoyed the fresh basil however I think next time I will add Gruyere cheese instead of parmesan and use a darker beer. I only had Yeungling in on hand so that’s what I used this time and I would like liked more of a beer taste. The whole thing was good, I just found myself wanting stronger flavors. I can’t wait to make it again!

Here is the recipe:

Beer Mac n Cheese
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Author: adapted from How Sweet It Is
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces milk
  • 8 ounces beer
  • 8 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prepare water for pasta and boil according to directions, shaving 1-2 minutes off of cooking time since pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add milk and beer into saucepan whisking constantly, then add cheeses and stir until melted. Turn heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for 5-6 minutes while mixture thickens. It will most likely NOT thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but you want it to thicken a little bit. Stir in pepper, paprika and nutmeg.
  4. Add noodles (once cooked and drained) to a casserole dish, then pour cheese over top, mixing gently to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil.

 

Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips

Last night I made mashed potatoes and parsnips and they were delicious! I had no intention of making them but a recipe that started with maple apple sausage ended with an inventive meal that I had no intentions of making. It all started last week when I picked up some maple apple sausage at Lancaster’s Central Market. I was planning to use it for breakfast last weekend but things got busy and breakfast never happened.

I was left with maple apple sausage and dinner to make. Initially, my plan was to make regular mashed potatoes and caramelized onions to go with the sausage. I asked Eric to look up a recipe on Epicurious for caramelized onions and he stumbled upon one that included mashed potatoes and parsnips. I had all the ingredients so I changed course and started peeling the parsnips. In the end, everything was delicious and I can’t wait to make this dish again, it also complimented the sausage very nicely.

Start the recipe by peeling and chopping up the potatoes and the parsnips. Put them into a medium saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes and parsnips are fork tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, throw the thinly sliced onions into a hot pan, add the brown sugar and salt. Reduce the heat and cook on medium until the onions brown and caramelize. Be sure and stir the onions to prevent sticking and reduce the heat if the onions begin to brown too fast. Add a tablespoon of water if they begin to burn. You want them to cook slowly over the heat; this will take 20-25 minutes.

During this part of the process I braised my sausage in chicken broth and then I used that broth to mash up the potatoes and parsnips.

Once the potatoes and parsnips are tender, put them in the bowl of a stand mixer and add about a 1/4 cup of the chicken broth.

Mix up well and then add more broth if the mixture looks dry. Add salt to taste along with the fresh thyme.

Finally, mix in cheese. The recipe calls for blue cheese but I only had gruyere so  that’s what I used.

When the onions are ready, take them out of the pan and then fry up the rest of the sausage in the pan until brown and crispy.

Serve the dish with caramelized onions on top and sliced sausage.

The flavor of the parsnips mashed with the potatoes was really nice and the thyme was a wonderful combination; could be a good idea for a Thanksgiving side dish…

 

Here’s the recipe from Epicurious.com:

Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips
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Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 baking potatoes (such as Yukon gold, about 2 pounds), peeled and cubed
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, heated
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyere
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat; reduce to medium. Cook onions with sugar and salt, stirring occasionally, until onions brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Add a few tablespoons water as you cook to keep onions from sticking or burning. Fill a medium stockpot ¾ full with cold water. Add potatoes and parsnips; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and parsnips are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes, then drain. Beat 1/4 of potato parsnip mixture and 3 ounces broth in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Repeat, alternating between potato-parsnip mixture and broth, until you’ve incorporated all. Fold in onions, cheese and thyme, and serve.

PS – Bailey is home and doing well! It will be a hard few weeks but she’s already seeming better than ever!