When I was younger, the only kind of cheese I liked was American: plastic-like, very salty, and bright orange. Most people don't even consider it cheese. But as a picky eater, it was all my mom could really get me to eat. Maybe shredded cheese in a burrito or something... but American cheese was all I would really eat purposefully.
Things have changed. After working in a deli, I found myself more willing to try different cheese. In fact, I started to get the feeling that I had missed out and it was time to regain some time I had lost. After trying gruyere and bacon scalloped potatoes, I knew I needed to change my cheese tune.
So last weekend when I mentioned to Danny that I wanted to make homemade macaroni and cheese (something I had never done before), we both got excited about picking out cheese. Why? Because we both love cheese.
We needed a lot of it. At the grocery store, we picked a fresh block of parmesan, a wedge of smoked gouda as our main cheese, and then some provolone to cut the gouda a little bit. Then, I found a good base recipe (from the Pioneer Woman) and started rewriting the ingredients.
Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese
- 2-3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- about 1/2 cup of smoked gouda, shredded
- about 1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
- about 1/4 cup provolone, shredded
- About 3 cups of noodles, boiled and drained
- About 1/2-3/4 cup of milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 onion, sliced into strips and caramelized in butter/bacon fat
- 3 strips of bacon, cut into pieces and cooked and drained
- Optional: roasted garlic
Prepare a baking dish by spraying it with some nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375-400 degrees.
In a large pot, melt your button and add the flour, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add milk and whisk vigorously to remove lumps. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. In a bowl, whisk your egg yolks and ladle in about 1/2 cup of the milk and butter mixture; mix to combine and then add to milk and butter mixture. Allow to thicken a bit more. Add cheese, bacon, onion, and, if using, roasted garlic. Add your cheese and stir until melted.
Add noodles a bit at a time. If you boiled too much and add it all at once, you'll be short on sauce. Stir to cover completely. Pour into your prepared dish and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. If you want, you can put more cheese and bread crumbs on top for a crispy crust.
Serve hot. This recipe makes about 8-10 servings and is incredibly filling.
The best part about this recipe is, really, that you can use whatever cheese you want and whatever add ins you want. Want parsnips instead of onions? Go for it. Broccoli and cauliflower? Yes please. All garlic and onions? Be my guest. It's a simple, easy recipe to mix and match.
That being said, the recipe as I made it was incredibly rich and smoky. Gouda is one of my favorite cheese. Combined with butter, onion, roasted garlic, and, most importantly, bacon, it could only get better! This was the perfect recipe for a Fall afternoon. With a fire in the wood stove and a Christmas movie on TV, it was a wonderful weekend treat. It also reheats really well and makes great work lunch leftovers!
Other cheese I would love to try in this would be gruyere, goat's cheese (chevre especially!), and maybe havarti. I'll be experimenting with cheese and additions for all of winter, I can tell!