As an attendee to the conference (register here and use my code of DebbieR2017 for a $50 discount), Florida Dairy Farmers is running a recipe contest for some awesome prizes, including an iPad mini, reimbursement for the conference registration, Snapchat glasses, Visa gift card and a Cookbook. The recipe must include at least 1 cup of real milk and at least 1 cup of one other dairy product.
Now, we all know when I hear milk and dairy in a recipe, my mind immediately goes to my favorite thing, macaroni and cheese. So, with that in mind, I definitely knew I needed something different…a basic regular mac and cheese is not going to win this contest. So, I decided to combine the flavors of a French onion soup with a creamy, cheesy, mac and cheese.
The recipe calls to bake the mac and cheese in individual ramekins, but it also bakes up nicely in a single baking dish, just increase the baking time by about 10 – 15 minutes to be sure it is heated all the way through.
French Onion Macaroni and Cheese
6 tablespoons butter, divided, plus additional for greasing ramekins, plus 1 tablespoon, melted
4 cups chopped sweet onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2/3 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish
8 ounces orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
10 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded, divided
1/4 cup panko
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 8 (1/2 cup capacity each) ramekins with butter; place onto a medium-sized baking sheet and set aside.
In a large non-stick skillet melt 4 tablespoons butter over low heat. Add in the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until golden brown and caramelized, approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Add in the beef broth and thyme and cook until broth is almost absorbed, approximately 2 minutes.
While onions are cooking, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and cook for one minute. Whisk in the milk and continue to cook until thickened, approximately 3 – 4 minutes. Add in 6 ounces of the cheese and mix until melted into the sauce. Add in remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pasta and stir to combine.
In a small bowl, mix together the panko and the melted butter.
Fill the prepared ramekins a little less than half full with some of the mac and cheese. Using 2 ounces of cheese, evenly divide amongst the ramekins, then evenly divide the onions between the ramekins, drizzling with any remaining broth, then top with remaining mac and cheese. Sprinkle with the reserved panko, then with remaining 2 ounces of cheese.
Place into preheated oven and bake until heated through and bubbly, approximately 15 minutes.
Garnish with additional fresh thyme and enjoy!