Monday, November 9, 2020

French Onion Macaroni and Cheese

 This is a sponsored post. While I was compensated financially, all opinions are my own. 

So much has happened in the last couple of months. I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during these wild and crazy days. It’s been a bit of blur over here. The manuscript for Vegetables: A Love Story is fully and completely edited and on its way to the designer as we speak. I can’t remember a day in the last year when I haven’t been working on the book! Feels strange and yet exhilarating to send the book baby away and see what magic transpires with the words and images. With a little more time on my hands I’m catching up on cleaning (oh the dust bunnies!) and tidying up all the loose ends that I’ve shoved to the back burner this year. My office has never been so clean and organized! And, there’s a blizzard on its way this weekend, so I’ve hunkered down with the cats, and have a fridge and pantry well-stocked so you know there is going to be some comfort food happening too. Nothing like swirling snow outside to make me want to have the oven on all day, cooking and baking all the things. This creamy French Onion Macaroni and Cheese was exactly what the day needed - full of delicious caramelized onions and gooey cheese. I’m already excited about the leftovers for lunch tomorrow! 

Spanish Sweet Onions are a staple in my pantry. They are a must-have ingredient to all savoury cooking, and frankly, I can’t imagine any of the recipes in my next cookbook without them! They make any meal better as they complement, rather than overwhelm a recipe. This time of year I look for the Spanish Sweet Onions grown in the Snake River Valley in Idaho and Eastern Oregon. They are a popular onion in Canada, available from mid-October to March/April, and I bet if you go grocery shopping today, you’ll likely be putting some in your cart. The Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish Sweets have never been recalled so look for them when you shop. These farmers have some of the most stringent growing and storage practices around. Spanish Sweets contain more sugar and less water than other onions, which makes them ideal for caramelizing, sautéing, and grilling. Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion growers plant yellow, red, and white varieties: yellow onions are best for cooking; reds are ideal for salads and white onions are usually served diced and uncooked. For this glorious pasta recipe, I went with a few yellow Spanish Sweets as I wanted a deep caramelization to take place. 

Mac and cheese is classic comfort food, and I’ve switched it up by adding loads of delicious flavour from caramelized Spanish Sweets. This is a one skillet affair, so everything is added to those glorious onions, including a nice shot of sherry which really adds a wonderful depth of flavour. The elbow macaroni cooks directly in the broth, and when it’s nice and tender, cheddar and cream cheese are stirred in. A golden dome of cheddar and panko is the finishing touch, and a short stint under the broiler ensures ample crispy bits. I served the macaroni and cheese to my mom and she swooned over the bowl. It always makes me happy when I impress my mom with one of my recipes! So be sure to tuck into this simple, yet oh so satisfying skillet pasta. For more terrific recipe ideas go to 

French Onion Macaroni and Cheese

2 Tbsp butter

3 medium Spanish Sweet Onions, sliced, about 3 1/2 cups

2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided

3 1/4 cups low-sodium beef broth

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 cups elbow macaroni

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

3/4 cup cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Melt the butter in a 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 Tbsp of the thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are deeply golden brown and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. If the onions start to burn, turn the heat down to medium-low. 

2. Pour in the broth and sherry, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the macaroni. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally so the macaroni doesn’t stick. 

3. Preheat the broiler. 

4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cheddar, cream cheese, and Dijon until combined. It’s okay if there are some pockets of cream cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the remaining cheddar and panko in a medium bowl and sprinkle over the pasta. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Sprinkle with

remaining thyme leaves. Makes 4 servings. 

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