French Onion Mac and Cheese adds a little Old World glamour to the holiday table.
The Nashville holiday sideboard always makes room for a hot, creamy macaroni and cheese casserole. Like its green bean companion, families carry their favorites forward. This year, however, let’s twist the dish a bit. Blend the classic M&C elements with a three-pound bag of onions and some nutty Gruyère cheese. No truffles, no lobster, no five-cheese blend. This is home cooking.
While complex tasting, French Onion Mac and Cheese is not a particularly challenging dish. But, like a nuanced French onion soup, the “work” is allowing the onions their time to relax and caramelize. Your reward is a sophisticated, savory, umami-esque accompaniment to turkey, beef tenderloin, and any other roasted, braised or grilled holiday meat you serve.
As with all holiday casseroles, baking temps are forgiving and flexible. As you juggle oven realty, slide in this dish where there’s room. It only asks for a warm up/crust up (not too hot an oven).
If you’re researching holiday recipes, we’ve got some goodies for you here.
Roasted Cranberries–you’ve got to try this. Excellent hostess gift and wonderful on the holiday table or as a fruit spread on the cheese board.
Southern Cornbread Dressing–You’ve got to start with real cornbread! Here’s the scoop!
Collard Cornbread Pudding–Here’s a new twist a two southern classics that adds homey goodness to the menu.
New England Clam Stuffie Dressing–We love Rhode Island Stuffies, so why not just turn that into your holiday dressing?
Napa Orange Salad with Walnuts–We all need a little refreshing crunch and tang on the otherwise very brown, mushy traditional holiday menu.
Winter Squash with Mushrooms and Onion Duxelles–Everything tastes better with a little mushroom and onion umami.
Turkey Halves in the Oven–If you haven’t discovered this trick, it’s time! Cut those birds in half!
Real Cranberry Gelatin–One of my most favorite recipes ever. Looks like cut glass red glass scattered over fresh orange chunks. Again, a little tang and color are always helpful to the menu.
- 1 stick butter
- 3 pounds onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup sherry
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 pound pasta, cooked until al dente (penne, fusilli, shells)
- ¼ coarse breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a heavy large Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and cook over medium low heat, partially covered, until the onions are creamy and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Stir frequently. While the onions cook, boil the pasta in salted water, drain and set aside.
Stir the sherry into the onions and cook over medium high heat until evaporated, a couple of minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions. Cook and stir another couple of minutes until thick and pasty. Stir in the broth, milk and thyme. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer and stir until bubbly, thickened, and creamy.
Turn off the heat and stir in the Gruyere cheese until melted. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the cooked pasta.
Pour the mixture into a greased 3-quart casserole. Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture over the pasta. Bake in a 350 F oven about 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
Note: To prepare the casserole ahead (do not add the crumb topping), just cover and refrigerate. Bake at 350 F covered with foil until hot, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and add the crumb topping. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. It’s okay to let the casserole sit at room temperature an hour or two before baking.