Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Most Amazing Mac and Cheese You'll Ever Have I Promise and Swear

Yeah, it's that good. A few days ago, I picked C up after her nap and snuggled her into the couch with me to watch the end of Food Network's Food Network Challenge. Five chefs had gathered to compete in making the assigned dish to see which would win the judge's favor. The assigned dish? Mac and Cheese.

Everything looked so good, I had no choice but to hunt up a recipe and haul myself to the grocery store for ingredients.

So I popped online and found this recipe, which I'll reprint here for your stomach's delight. My additions/substitutions are in italics.

Oh, and warning, it's kind of rich and well, really delicious.

Here goes!

Cornbread Topped Apple Macaroni and Cheese

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon - olive oil
1 cup - diced yellow onion
2 cups - cornbread muffin crumbles (store bought), about 2 large I used regular breadcrumbs because I didn't have time to make cornbread and the store didn't have any prepared.  I really think a cup and a half is plenty, too.
2 cups - uncooked elbow noodles
1/4 cup - all-purpose flour
1 cup - half and half
1 cup - whole milk
1/2 teaspoon - salt
1/2 teaspoon - black pepper
1/2 teaspoon - ground cinnamon
1 lb. (16 oz) brick - Tillamook® Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated Any cheese brand will do.  The company that sponsored the contest where this recipe won is Tillamook cheese. 
1 1/2 cups - diced Granny Smith apples (or other tart apples)  I would have added a smidgen more, actually.  The Granny Smiths were DELICIOUS in this.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cornbread crumbles, stir to combine and remove from heat. Set aside.

To prepare the macaroni and cheese, begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook about two minutes or until roué is golden. Good Roux or Roué is the element responsible for holding your cheese sauce together and keeping it creamy, so don't rush this step.  Slowly whisk in half and half and milk; stir until the mixture has thickened and slightly darkened, about three minutes. Season the sauce with the salt, pepper and cinnamon.

Slowly add the grated Sharp Cheddar cheese, a little at a time; and stir until completely melted. Remove pan from heat. Mix in the reserved noodles and apples. Stir until well combined. Pour the pasta mixture into a greased 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish and top with reserved cornbread mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly, golden on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

I think you could possibly prepare this ahead of time and heat it later, though that may do weird things to the cheese.  You can shred your cheese and cut your apples ahead of time though.  If you do that, this only takes about 15 minutes to prepare, and then while it's baking, you can clean up and set the table, etc.  

I know at least one person who doesn't like mushy apples.   Because all of the components of this dish are hot when you combine them except the apples, I think you could bake it for 20 minutes and have the apples warm, but still crisp.  Actually, that's kind of what we did... unintentionally.  I was really impatient and wanted to eat so I took it out early and the apples were great :)

It was a hit with everyone and I ate it for three meals the next day.  (I'm PREGNANT, people!  Leave me be!)


  1. Um. I'm dying of craving-induced cheesy hunger!!

    When I get back, I'll come over and make Kimbaps for you and in turn, you'll make this for me?

    It's a date!

  2. I confess. I hate mushy apples. This sounds a lot like how apples in cheese fondue would taste and that, my friend, is something that fills my heart with joy.

    (PS. This is why diets don't work for me. The phrase "fills my heart with joy" and some type of food are often uttered in the same breath)

  3. Sounds so yummy, I think I will make it this week! Thanks...Jan

  4. Hey Jen,
    First, we'd like to thank you for getting the word out about some of the best mac and cheese to be had. Second, we must protest (just a little) the statement that "any cheese brand will do." Granted, we're a bit biased, but there are plenty of cheeses out there without the flavor of Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar. Third, we'd like to say that we still liked your passionate endorsement of this recipe enough to make it our Post of the Day at www.tillamookfanclub.com.
    Jake Ten Pas
    Tillamook Cheese Fan Club


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