I was kind of “meh” all last week.
Nothing bad happened. It wasn’t a particularly hellacious week at work. Nothing was wrong. I just wasn’t feeling it.
So to banish the “oncoming winter” blues, I decided beer was the answer. Specifically, beer with carbs and cheese. This beer mac & cheese had been staring at me from my Pinterest page for quite some time, and I decided it was time to make it reality. Add beer bread into the equation (post to come), and you’ve got the recipe for an awesome Sunday night (with a lovely Malbec, a good friend, and The Artist on Netflix, of course).
The thing I love about this recipe (besides the beer, cheese, and pasta), is that it’s really not that bad for you relative to how awful mac & cheese can be. Sure, there’s quite a bit of cheese, but you use whole grain pasta, I used skim milk (most recipes call for heavy cream), and the whole recipe only takes 2 tablespoons of butter.
Preheat oven to 375 and set a pot of water to boil. Cook the macaroni according to directions, but 1-2 minutes short (it will continue to cook in the oven).
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saucepan on medium or medium-high (around 6 on my stove). Drop 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan and melt. Once melted and sizzling, whisk in the 2 tablespoons of flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden, about 2 minutes. You could turn the heat down to maybe 5 for this so you don’t scald it.
Add the milk and beer, whisking constantly.
Then add the cheeses, stirring until fully combined. Cheesy, awesome goodness.
Turn the heat down to medium if you haven’t already and and make sure you continue to stir. Cook for about 5-6 minutes while the mixture thickens. Note, though, that it probably won’t thicken quite as much as regular mac and cheese sauce due to the beer.
Finally, stir in the pepper (I used white instead of black), smoked paprika, and nutmeg. Your cheese sauce is ready to rock.
Spray a 9×13 pan (or similar volume) with non-stick spray. Drain the pasta and pour into the pan.
Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles, making sure it’s evenly distributed.
Sprinkle with the panko or bread crumbs and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
The flavor was great, just a little something extra to the classic mac & cheese flavor. The whole grain noodles added something too. I’d definitely make this again, and maybe even play around with different varieties of beer to see how that affects the flavor. For instance, I bet it would be awesome with a Negro Modelo.
Easy Beer Mac & Cheese
- 2 1/2 cups of uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles (I used the 51% whole wheat ones)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 8 ounces of milk
- 8 ounces of beer (I used an amber lager)
- 8 ounces of freshly grated cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces of freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Pinch of black pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
- 10 large basil leaves, chopped for garnish (I omitted this)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Boil water for the pasta, salt heavily once boiling, and add the pasta. Cook according to the directions, but shave 1-2 minutes off of cooking time since it will continue to cook in the oven.
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat (around 6 on my stove) and add the butter. Once it’s melted and sizzling, whisk in the flour to create a roux and stir constantly until bubbly and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and beer, whisking constantly, then add the cheeses and stir until melted. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for about 5-6 minutes while the sauce thickens. Note, it probably won’t thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but it still should thicken somewhat. Stir in pepper (I used white), smoked paprika and nutmeg, and remove from heat.
Drain the noodles and pour in a 9×13 pan (or similar volume) sprayed with non-stick spray. Pour the cheese sauce over top, making sure it’s gently combined and evenly spread out. Top with panko or bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil if desired.
Original recipe here: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/08/easy-beer-mac-and-cheese/