For today’s Crock Pot Wednesday, start with this basic mac and cheese recipe but follow the variation suggestion after it. It’s decadent:)
The winner of the Merry Merry Munchies Giveaway will be announced on January 1, 2010! There’s still time to post an entry.
Today’s recipe comes from Diane Phillips’s Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever. I am working my way through many of the entries in this book and have been quite pleased with all of them so far.
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped (can be omitted)
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
4 drops Tabasco
5 cups finely shredded mild yellow and sharp white Cheddar, plus extra to top
6 cups elbow macaroni, cooked just short of al dente (any longer and you will have mac and mush) You can substitute any other small pasta such as shells or rigatoni.
1/2 cup crushed buttery crackers such as Ritz
Coat the insert of a 5-7 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or line it with a slow cooker liner according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually add the broth and milk and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly.
Add the Tabasco and remove the sauce from the het. Add 3 cups of the cheese to the sauce and stir to melt. Spread half the macaroni in the slow cooker and pour half of the sauce over the macaroni.
Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over the layer. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and sauce and 1 cup of the cheese. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours, until the mac and cheese is bubbling and cooked through.
Sprinkle a little more cheese and the crackers over the top of the mac and cheese. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Allow the mac and cheese to rest about 10 minutes.
Serves 6 – 8.
Applewood Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onion and White Cheddar Variation:
Cook 8 strips of applewood smoked bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove it from the pan to drain and crumble.
Caramelize 4 large sweet onions in a saute pan with 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme until the onions are golden,a bout 15-20 minutes.
Use all sharp white Cheddar for the cheese. Distribute the bacon and onion between the layers and proceed as directed.
According to Phillips, the casserole can be assembled in a slow cooker liner and then refrigerated or frozen for later use. Before cooking, defrost the frozen casserole overnight in the refrigerator, bringing it to room temperature for 45 minutes before cooking. I have not tried this myself, but I think it’s a great idea to know about.
Happy New Year to all of you and thanks for participating in Crock Pot Wednesday.