Macaroni and Cheese is a beloved dish of mine, even though I'm lactose intolerant. I make many variations of it, most of them involving bacon and multiple cheese types. This beer laced mac was a new endeavor however, and a very successful one.
I was helping S make mac and cheese for dinner one night (ok, I took over, I'm a kitchen control freak), when S suggested that beer might be a nice addition to mac and cheese.
Well, being from the Midwest, land of the beer cheese soup, I generally think beer and cheese should always be together. Hence my recent recipe for Beer Cheese Pretzels.
I wanted to jump in and make the mac and cheese with beer the next day, but S didn't like the idea of making another dish of mac before we even finished eating the one we made that night, so I waited a almost a week.
It was worth the wait. This is a great mac and cheese, slightly more complex than your basic mac, the beer really complements the nutty gouda. I used a smoked gouda, but I know the smoked flavor is not for everyone, and any gouda would work well in this recipe.
If you prefer a baked mac, I provide broiling instructions, just long enough to get the cheese on top to melt though. However, if you prefer a saucy, unbaked mac and cheese, similar in consistency to boxed mac, simply don't bake it, just mix the bacon right in. But I really think you should try broiling it, the extra layer of melty cheese is delightful.
This mac will certainly be entering our regular repertoire, which in this autumnal time of year I find is frequently full of cheese sauces and baked casseroles. Also, a lot of squash. I wonder if I could find a way to put squash in mac and cheese? That recipe may be coming soon.
This mac is something special, something heavenly. It's an absolutely perfect dish for an autumn night.
Mac and Cheese and Beer
1 lb macaroni
1 1/2 heaping cups cheddar, grated
1 1/2 C heaping cups gouda, grated
6 strips bacon
1/2 C beer room temperature I used a lager, but a porter would also work
3/4 C milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
A generous 1/2 tsp paprika
A dash of Cayenne
2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
Boil Water and add macaroni, cook until not quite ready, it should be a bit firmer than al dente. Drain. While pasta cooks, cook bacon, and make sauce.
Fry the bacon over medium low heat (always add bacon to your pan prior to heating), until crispy.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat, once melted sprinkle in flour and whisking constantly cook about 2 minutes. Add paprika and cayenne, whisk again.
Pour in milk and beer, still whisking constantly, and cook another 2 minutes (you can whisk less now). Once sauce is cohesively mixed and slightly thickened, whisk in the cheese. Reserve a bit of cheese, about 1/2 C to top the dish with later. Try to stir in a zig zag or random pattern to avoid creating a cheese ball. Once sauce is smooth and cheese is melted whisk in 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
Pour hot cheese sauce over macaroni and mix well. If you prefer a saucy mac, similar to boxed macaroni and cheese in consistency, simply stir in the bacon and serve. I like a baked mac, so I pour my mac and cheese into a baking pan, top it with more grated cheese and the bacon, and place under your broiler for 5-8 minutes, just until your cheesy top melts. Serve immediately and enjoy.