Smoked Cheddar, Honey Ham, Caramelized Onion
Mac & Cheese
Fall is slowly fading here in Ontario and we are headed for single digits. This means it's time to start enjoying all the cozy comfort food to warm our souls and hearts. It will be a lot of hibernation ahead with lots of hot drinks, soups and comfort food. Mac and Cheese is a popular dish in this family and I am always finding creative ways to serve it. This recipe features Canadian Maple Syrup to caramelize sweet onions and honey ham. Tossed with a creamy smoked cheddar and gruyere cheese sauce makes for an absolutely satisfying and delicious meal to warm you up. With winter squash in season, you can enjoy my recipe of Acorn Squash Stuffed Mac and Cheese for a meatless option.
Enjoy and keep warm
2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 tbsp maple syrup
454 g Casarecci Pasta
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk or 2 %
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cup smoked cheddar, grated
1 1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated
2 cup honey ham, 1/2 inch diced
1/3 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a medium sauté pan, heat maple syrup over medium heat. Add onions and sauté foe 5-6 minutes until dark golden and soft. Add ham and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes until ham is warm. Remove heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season with 1 tsp of salt and add pasta. Cook until el dente but still firm. Drain pasta and place it back in the pot.
In a large deep cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue whisking until mixture has turned golden. Whisk in the milk and remove any lumps. Cook until slightly thicken, about 5 minutes. Add in mixture, mustard, thyme and salt and paper. Whisk until smooth and slightly thicken. Add grated cheese and continue whisking until cheese has melted and mixture is creamy. Stir in onions and ham mixture but reserve 3 tbsp of just the onions for the topping. Add pasta to skillet and mix well to ensure pasta is well covered with cheese sauce.
Drizzle breadcrumbs, parmigiano cheese and remaining caramelized onions evenly on top of pasta. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbling and tops are golden.
I love a crispy dark golden top, so I place the oven on broil for 1-2 minutes before done. Ensure you keep and eye on it so you don't burn the topping.
Makes 6-8 servings