In my quest for the perfect stovetop mac and cheese, I absolutely had to try Tracy’s recipe from Tasty Kitchen as soon as I saw it. I’ve never tried using Gouda in my mac and cheese, and was very interested to see how it went down. So after adjusting the recipe to add more onion, more cheese and more cream, here’s how it went down:
Oh baby oh.
Look no further.
Let me break it down for you: I’ve made stovetop mac and cheese at least 4 times in the past few months. I photographed all my efforts so that I could share the recipes with you in the event of success, but none of them made the cut. Until this recipe. Point #2: my husband normally doesn’t even like mac and cheese unless it’s baked. But he loved this recipe. Need I say more?
1 lb campanelle pasta (or any other kind)
5 slices bacon
1 whole sweet onion, chopped finely
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
First, boil some salted water and cook the pasta until al dente.
Set it aside.
You can really use any shape of pasta–elbow macaroni, penne, farfalle, etc.–but I love the campanelle because the little shell-shaped swirls are perfect for capturing the sauce inside. Check it out:
I shall rename this pasta shape “Ye Horne of Plenty.”
While the pasta is cooking, you can focus on the very simple sauce–it all starts with the bacon.
Fry the bacon slices until they’re starting to get crispy, then remove them to a paper towel and pad off the grease. Roughly chop them and set them aside.
As you can see, I used my trusty kitchen scissors for this task.
While the pasta is cooking and the bacon is frying, there’s plenty of time to mince up the onion. First I halve it, then I slice each half like so:
Then I cut in the opposite direction like so:
Thank you photography for saving me from a confusing verbal description of what just happened to that onion.
These little morsels of sweet onion are going to be perfect in that cheesy sauce. Yup.
Take a piece of Gouda . . .
. . . and grate up 1 cup. Or grate up more and eat the extra; the choice is yours.
Can you tell that I grated significantly more than I needed? On purpose? It’s called ‘the cook’s prerogative,’ and I claim that authority. Plus, the packaging says “Great for Entertaining,” and I was in sore need of entertainment after a frustrating day at work.
Nothing like melted cheese to make the stresses of the day melt away. Hmmm–that rhymes. I think I’ll write a song about that. The chorus will go “The stress is melting like cheese in fondue/with this kind of goodness, who could feel blue?/Give me that mac and cheese any old day/cause baby my worries are falling away.” And it will top the charts.
Remove most of the bacon grease from the pot (leaving about 1 TBS) and fry the sweet onion in the bacon grease over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until translucent and slightly soft.
Season the onion with salt and pepper as it cooks.
Add the bacon back into the pot along with the heavy cream.
Simmer over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the mixture has reduced and thickened a little.
Turn off the heat and stir in the Gouda cheese.
As soon as it has melted into the sauce (this will only take a minute), it will look something like this:
Add in the cooked pasta and stir the whole mess around until each and every Ye Horne of Plenty is coated in the sauce.
Taste and re-season, adding salt and pepper as needed. I added a healthy pinch of salt.
Quickly gather the troops, because this is best served hot.
A word to the wise–like most mac and cheese type dishes, this doesn’t reheat extraordinarily well, so chow down! And then thank the Dutch for the miracle of Gouda.
The next experiment: how would it taste if I used smoked Gouda?
Though I don’t know if I want to experiment–it’s so perfect just as it is.
If you need a little more protein, you can always grab that piece of salmon that’s been skulking around in your fridge and give it a quick fry.
Flake it up a little with a fork or two . . .
. . . and toss it in the bowl right along with the creamy pasta goodness.
Also quite choice. Either way, this recipe is fabulous. If you’re a lover of mac and cheese, you will not be disappointed.
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