Posted by: Annie
In my house, snow day and comfort food go hand in hand. That is how during last weeks snow day homemade mozzarella sticks, and macaroni cheese were consumed in the same sitting. My roommate told me that she saw this particular mac & cheese recipe on a Rachel Ray cook-off and when I heard it involved beer- I was sold. Unfortunately, white Irish cheddar was not to be found at my local grocery store, and in the snowy weather I was not going to attempt to drive to my favorite foodstore (I drive twenty minutes out of my way every weekend to grocery shop - that is how serious I am about my groceries), so regular white cheddar had to suffice. Nonetheless, the macaroni was creamy, had an awesome flavor and a bit of a bite!
What you will need:
2- 12oz bottles of an Irish lager beer
16 oz rotini pasta
6 T butter, divided
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 c flour
2 cups half and half
12 oz grated White Irish Cheddar or regular white cheddar
8 oz grated Medium Cheddar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large sauce pot, heat the beer and bring to a boil. Next, reduce the heat and simmer until the beer has reduced by half. Set aside.
In a separate pot cook pasta according to package directions.
In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add in onions and cook until soft, approximately four minutes. Next, stir in the garlic and saute for an additional two minutes. Add in flour and whisk constantly for three minutes. Pour in the beer, half-and-half, and heat to a boil, once again consistently whisking. Lower the heat, simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low and mix in the two cheeses; stir until melted and smooth. Mix in the salt, pepper and cayenne. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked pasta and tomato halves. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.
In the microwave melt 2T butter. Mix with breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.