Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Cooking with Blobby

If you come at me enough with some half decent looking recipe, I'm probably gonna try it. So when NYT kept coming about a French Onion Macaroni and Cheese, how strong willed was I going to be in the first place? 

Months ago, when I saw it, 710 didn't seem overly thrilled with the prospect, so I just didn't tell him I was making it. And honestly, what better time to make it then when we were creeping to sub-zero weather? I mean, doesn't this just scream cold weather comfort food? 

I didn't stick 100% to the Times' version. For one, due to not having as much cheese as they wanted on hand (and honestly, 16 oz of Gruyère is like $25!). While the recipe says it serves 6-8, I'm not sure who they're serving.  I cut everything by half (full version is below though) and that would still serve 6-8. 

It's a lot of ingredients and when things start to happen, it comes together quickly, so the best thing I can say is prep any and everything in advance. Still, due to timing, I had everything cleaned up before it came out oven. 


Yield: 6 to 8 servings (again, I cut everything in half and still easily could serve 6-8)

Kosher salt 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan 
2 pounds yellow or Vidalia onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced   
5 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more thyme leaves for garnish 
1 fresh or dried bay leaf (optional) (and I didn't use)
Black pepper 
1 pound cavatappi or elbow pasta 
1 baguette, cut into ½-inch slices 
1 garlic clove 
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
4 cups whole milk 
16 ounces Gruyère, grated (about 5 cups) 
12 ounces white Cheddar, grated (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (not in the NYT version, but I did it anyway)
1-2 tablespoons of  Worchestire Sauce (not in the NYT verison either)

Step 1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (If you’re planning to bake the macaroni and cheese in a baking dish instead of a skillet, butter 9-by-13-inch baking dish or other 3-quart casserole.) 

Step 2 Meanwhile, in a deep, large (12-inch) ovenproof skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, thyme sprigs and bay leaf, if using, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid, baking sheet or foil and cook, stirring once or twice, until the onions are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. 

Seriously, chop your onions and grate your cheese before you do any of the above. You'll thank me later. 

Step 3 Uncover and continue to cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. If the onions look dry, add a few tablespoons of water at a time to prevent them from burning, scraping up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. (You will need to do this several times.) 

No additional moisture needed added, but if you do, consider beef stock instead of water, to give it that French onion soup vibe. 

Step 4 While the onions are cooking, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until 2 minutes shy of al dente; drain and set aside. Rub one side of each baguette slice with garlic. 

Macaroni only takes 5 minutes to cook, and if they want you to do it 2 minutes less, you might consider starting the pasta after you make the Béchamel. I cooked for the full 5 minutes, btw.

Step 5 When the onions are a deep golden brown, discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and deglaze the skillet with the vinegar until evaporated (actually, take out the onions too - they'll go back in), scraping up browned bits as you go, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When melted, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the flour begins to stick to the bottom of the pan and has turned a light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, whisking often. 

Step 6 Reserve 1 cup of the Gruyère. Carefully add the remaining Gruyère and all the Cheddar to the caramelized onion mixture and carefully stir until melted. If your pan is big enough, add the cooked pasta and stir to combine, or combine the sauce and pasta in the prepared dish. 

Step 7 Spread the pasta mixture in an even layer in the prepared dish, then top with the baguette slices, garlic-side up. Sprinkle the toasts with the reserved 1 cup Gruyère and season with pepper. Place the skillet or dish on a sheet pan and bake until bubbly and brown in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. If you like a crispier top, broil for a few minutes. Let cool slightly, then garnish with fresh thyme leaves

It came out great - and very onion-y, which was kind of the point. It reheats nicely. As I said, half the recipe makes 6-8 servings and so far we're only done with four. 


James Dwight Williamson said...

Looks Great!

Travel said...

I might try that.

Old Lurker said...

Why do you torment us with such delicious looking food?