Baked Apple Macaroni and Cheese
On our trip to the apple orchard this weekend, we got a huge bag of assorted apples (in addition to the lovely berries I turned into the cake I posted earlier this evening). The usual suspects came up when we were discussing what to do with the apples, and then it hit me. I have never tried to make my scalloped apple mac 'n cheese mix at home! So I went a hunting for some ideas of where to start and came across this recipe. It sounded so delicious, I just had to share.
I haven't tried it yet, will be doing so this evening (will update this after I make it). Thinking about pairing it with my cinnamon chicken...hmmm! Even if it doesn't turn out to be exactly what I'm looking for, it sure reads like a tasty place to start!
I copied the recipe directly from the PDF, but if you wish, you can get the original recipe here: www.micuisine.com/mi_cuisine/recipes/.../
(photo is a web photo)
How to Make Baked Apple Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 1/2 medium Michigan Red Delicious apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup whole or 2% milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups grated mild Wisconsin cheddar cheese
1 cup grated sharp Pinconning cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Extra unsalted butter
Extra unpeeled apples for garnish
1 8 x 8 (1/2 quart) glass casserole dish
6 or 8 quart pot
Large mixing bowl
Use some of the extra butter to butter the inside bottom and sides of the glass casserole dish and set it aside.
- Put about 4 quarts of water in the pot, add a tablespoon or so of the olive oil to the water, and set the heat to medium-high. Wait for the water to heat to a roiling boil. Once the water is boiling, add the uncooked macaroni to it. Cook the noodles about 7 minutes until they?re al dente. (Taste one to make sure! Stoves that run hot could mess this up.) Place the colander in a sink. Drain the macaroni in the colander, tossing it to ensure all water is out from inside all the noodles. Dump the drained noodles into a large mixing bowl and set it aside to cool a bit. (The oil you added to the water should help prevent the noodles from sticking together as they cool.)
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and core the apples and cut them into wedges about 1/4 inch thick at the outside, placing the wedges into the small bowl. Sprinkle the apple wedges with some of the lemon juice. Toss the apple wedges and lemon juice by hand so the wedges are completely coated. Add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the apple wedges and again toss them by hand. Sniff them to ensure a good apple pie aroma. Set them aside.
- Make sure the flour, milk and half-and-half are measured out, and are readily available in dishes by the stove prior to starting the next steps.
- Put the 2 tablespoons of butter in the medium saucepan, set it for low heat and gently let the butter melt. As soon as the butter is melted, slowly add the flour, stirring the mixture constantly until it?s quite smooth. (Yes, you've made a roux.) Gradually stir in the milk and the half-and-half.
- Continue to cook this mixture, stirring it constantly, until it boils and thickens. (This should only take about 2 minutes. Yes, you’ve made a simple white sauce.) Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the grated Pinconning cheese and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir this gently until all the cheese is melted and the overall sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste (but not too much!).
- In the large mixing bowl, gently (so the apple wedges stay intact and you don’t cut any of the noodles) toss the seasoned apple wedges in with the cooked macaroni. Fold the cheese sauce into the mixture of macaroni and apples, continuing a gentle folding until all the noodles and apples are covered. Pour the completed mixture into the buttered glass dish. Top the mixture with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and dot it all by cutting about 2 tablespoons of the extra butter into little pieces and placing them on top of the mixture.
- Bake the completed dish uncovered in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the top cheese is melted and is a golden brown. Pull it out of the oven and let it stand 5 minutes so the cheese will finish setting.
- Serve with a garnish of fresh apple wedges to help clean up any leftover cheese sauce on the plate after eating.
- Author's Notes:
1. Make sure to use a sweet type of apple this. Tart apples, such as Granny Smith's that are normally used for apple pies, won't compliment the flavors of the cheeses correctly and will certainly sour the dish.
2. We used a sharp Pinconning with a mild Wisconsin cheddar so they offset each other's "bite". If you and yours really like sharp cheeses, go ahead and use sharp for both, or even extra-sharp if that's what you enjoy.
3. We like using Barilla elbow marcaroni noodles for macaroni and cheese dishes. They have small ridges on the outside that tend to hold more of a sauce than a smooth noodle.
4. Don't use 1% or skim milk for the sauce in this dish. 2% milkfat or higher is necessary for the sauce to develop correctly.
5. If the sauce "breaks" at all during it's preparation, the only thing you can do is dump it and start that portion of the recipe over, going back to washing out the saucepan and melting another 2 tablespoons of butter. Otherwise, the completed dish won't have the desired consistancy.
6. Going somewhere with this dish? Make it up to the point where you've dotted the top of it with butter, then cover it with aluminum foil and transport it. Once you're where you're headed to, take off the foil, then throw it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F and cook it as described.