As we slide into fall, it seems like our appetite for comfort food increases in direct relationship to the drop in temperature.
Here's a recipe that I think works great for cooler autumn nights. I tried this Beer & Cheese Macaroni Gratin for the first time about a week ago when we used it as an appetizer for a private event. I love the addition of a pilsner beer, which can make for an easy pairing if you like. Pay particular attention to the use of Panko, a Japanese style of breadcrumb, which is a wonderful addition to any kind of baked cheese dish and works wonders for any sort of breadcrumb needs. It makes a delicious breading for deep fried or pan fried items.
Cheddar and Gruyere are the cheeses we recommend, but try experimenting- substitute a Emmenthaler or another kind of Swiss for the Gruyere or perhaps a Gouda might be nice. Havarti, Monteray Jack, or Colby might be good in place of the Cheddar. Try some out and let us know! You can never have too many kinds of cheese!
Beer and Cheese Macaroni Gratin
Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
1/2 pound macaroni
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups Peroni or Pilsner Urquell
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 pound gruyere, grated
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes.
Drain, toss with a splash of oil to prevent sticking and place in large bowl.
3. Melt butter in large saucepan. Whisk in flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for about
2 minutes. Add the nutmeg and cook 1 minute more.
4. Gradually whisk in the milk and beer. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 of the cheese
6. Add sauce to pasta and mix well. Spoon the mixture into a buttered baking dish. Top the
noodles with the rest of the cheese and bread crumbs.
7. Bake on a parchment-lined sheet tray until golden and bubbly, about 40 minutes.