Saturday, August 20, 2011

Easy Beer Mac and Cheese

I've noticed that lots of my most popular posts involve pasta dishes. Cue new pasta dish for all of you! This one comes courtesy of the always satisfying and delicious blog How Sweet It Is. As you may recall, she is the genius behind the Creamy Caprese Pasta I made that you guys apparently loved (I know, I did too). If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you definitely should.

Anyhoo...(I say that a lot, don't I? Oh well)

Before John and I were married he knew how to make two things: cereal and mac and cheese (oh, and did I mention this was the shells and cheese version that requires you to cook noodles and stir in sauce?). The hubby just loves mac and cheese! And cheese. But who doesn't love cheese?

Well, when I saw this recipe I knew that I had to make it asap because it seems like a man's dream food.  Turns out, it is. John didn't have seconds, he had thirds. Such an interesting twist on mac and cheese. You can't taste the beer but you get some of the great flavors. Overall the quality of the whole wheat noodles gave it a rich taste. It felt homey and absolutely delicious.

John's only request was that there was a little more cheese. So I melted some cheese, butter and milk and poured it on top. After that, perfection. :)

*2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles
*2 tablespoons butter
*2 tablespoons flour
*8 ounces milk (I used skim)
*8 ounces beer (I used an Upland Wheat - gotta represent good ole Indiana!)
*8 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
*4 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
*1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (I only had regular paprika)
*pinch of black pepper
*pinch of nutmeg
*1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
*10 large basil leaves, chopped for garnish (whoops, forgot to buy these! I really need a house with a veggie and herb garden)

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

*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.

*Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, 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.

*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.

*Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil (if you remembered it!)

Pouring the beer in...Hubby helped me by taking pictures :)

Time to add cheese! Thanks again to the hubby!

Pouring in the cheesy mixture. So grateful my hubby helped with pics :)
Not a pretty picture, but I wanted you to see that mine looked a bit soupy - but did NOT turn out that way at all after cooking!

Out of the oven, topped with crispy bread crumbs, warm and bubbly :)

Warm, gooey cheese, with crispy bread crumbs mixed in.

Just one more...Soooo good!

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