Friday, March 14, 2008

French Onion "Soup" Mac and Cheese

My dad used to not cook much, and his "specialty" was macaroni and cheese. It's SO easy and SO unhealthy but SO YUMMY! I make it sometimes, but it's never as good as his.

Every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember, my mom would make French Onion soup for the "second course." DE-LISH! Every year she contemplates making something new, but too many people whine and complain and beg her to keep it. Hee hee! It's VERY good.

Anyway, so when I first saw this recipe on the Food Network's website, it seemed a perfect "marriage" of my parents (haha, get it? Marriage? 'Cause they ARE married! Ha!). I immediately earmarked it for a Lenten Friday, and couldn't wait to try it. I was a bit apprehensive, however, because it was so "different" - I had visions of us scrambling to order pizza in order to rectify the dinner.

Overall, I liked it. It was heavier than I expected - I couldn't finish my portion (or maybe that's because of the snacking I did while cooking... hmm...). But I will definitely do this again. It was a terrific wintery comfort food.

While I was actually cooking it, I was forced to make more substitutions than I intended, so I'll be interested in trying this again "for real."

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces Gruyere, grated (I apparently totally forgot to buy this, and didn't realize it until I was mid-meal... so I just used ALL mozzarella... EEK!)
  • 3 ounces mozzarella grated

French Onion "Soup":

  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon (or nonstick spray)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey (I thought I had some, but apparently didn't... so it was omitted.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups beef stock (I used veggie since it's Friday.)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (I used dried.)
  • 1 pound pasta, cooked al dente (elbow macaroni, ziti, or fusilli work well) (I wanted to use elbows because they're so much easier for Ryan, but I accidentally grabbed ziti and didn't realize it until I poured half of them into the pot!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Topping: Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and set aside.

Bechamel Sauce: Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir to combine. Stir constantly, for about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and whisk in the milk or half-and-half, adding a little at a time and cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Lower heat, season with the salt and pepper and add Gruyere and mozzarella cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Set aside.

French Onion "Soup:" Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add onions, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove cover, add garlic and honey, and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Remove pot from heat and add sherry. Return to heat and stir to remove browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce sherry by half, then add stock and thyme and cook until almost all liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat.

Grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole with the last tablespoon of butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine cooked pasta with onion "soup" mixture and bechamel sauce, and stir well to combine. Transfer pasta to baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumb/Parmesan topping.

Bake until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.


  1. That looks so good. What an interesting combination. I just might have to make this myself!

  2. Your posts always make me laugh! I love all your on the fly substitutions. ;)

  3. A good story

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    Voila: This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

    From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

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    I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

    I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.



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