November 26, 2014

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese


Introducing: the FIRST recipe for one of this year's "Best Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge" Elite Eight winners, the front-runner for this year's competition, Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese.  This mac 'n cheese dish is rich, creamy, and full of flavor.  It combines the dry acidic "bite" of white wine with the smoked "bacon-y" flavor from the Gouda.  Add in some Fontina for creaminess and the cracker crumble on top for some crunch, and you've got a perfect Thanksgiving side dish!  Enjoy.

What You'll Need:
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, plain or vegetable-style
  • 1 stick butter, divided (4T. + 4T.)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or small shells
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 2 scallions, optional for garnish

1.   Empty one sleeve of Ritz crackers into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.  Crush crackers until they have the consistency of panko breadcrumbs.  In a large skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add crushed crackers.  Stir in chopped chives and cook until crackers have toasted.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk until flour has dissolved and the mixture browns and is smooth.  Add buttermilk, white wine, onion powder, and spices, and whisk until mixture thickens, about 7 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and whisk in cheese until incorporated and melted through.

3.  Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Heavily salt the water and cook pasta according to package directions.  (Under-cook just slightly - by about one minute - as it is going in the oven for a bit at the end.)  Drain pasta and return to hot pot.  Add cheese sauce to hot pot with pasta and incorporate until mixed through. 

4.  Transfer pasta to a oven-safe dish and top with cracker crumble.  Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until bubbly.  Remove from oven and enjoy!





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