Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Ultimate Comfort Food

One of the many blogs I like to visit is Picky Palate. Not only does Jenny have lots of great, easy to make recipes, but she often enters cooking and baking competitions as well. When I found out that she was going to be on the Ultimate Recipe Showdown on the Food Network, I made sure to tune in that episode! Jenny's Southwest Chicken Mac and Cheese looks fabulous and is definitely on my list of recipes to try, but one of her competitor's recipes also caught my attention - the French Onion "Soup" Mac and Cheese.

I like Mac and Cheese, but sometimes it's a little too boring for me. I love French Onion Soup. So the idea of combining these two dishes together seemed promising to me. I was intrigued and nervous at the same time as to how this would turn out. Honestly, when I read the recipe, it sounded like it might be good, but like it might also be a bit gross at the same time. I figured that if the judges on the show loved it so much, though, that it was a pretty safe bet.

Wow, was this good! It's not exactly a recipe for those on Weight Watcher's, but if you're looking for something delicious and comforting, you've come to the right place. It's basically a super cheesy pasta dish with a yummy onion flavor to it. The beef stock and thyme are subtle flavors that complement the dish, and the Parmesan bread crumb topping gives each bite a nice crunch. It wasn't a thirty minute meal, but it is definitely something that I will make again.

French Onion "Soup" Mac and Cheese
from Brett Greenberg

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
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
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry sherry
2 cups beef stock
8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente (elbow macaroni, ziti, or fusilli work well)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

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.

Yield: 8 to 10 Servings


  1. That mac and cheese caught my eye also. It looks so yummy! I love onions.
    Your TWD brownies look amazing. I love the whirring mixer picture.

  2. Ultimate is right! That is sooooooo mouthwatering!

  3. I bookmarked this a while back when I saw it on the FN. I love french onion anything, too! Yours looks great and I am so glad you liked it. I definitely need to try this soon.

  4. I'm so glad you tried Brett's mac and cheese Jamie, I've been wanting to try it since last year! I had a small nibble at the competition and it was fantastic! I love your pictures too!

  5. Jaime, I have never eaten mac and cheese nor French onion soup. I guess I should go for this dish instead!

  6. Oh I am so hungry now. That looks AMAZING!

  7. Carby-salty-cheesy. Yup. That's ultimate comfort food, indeed. Looks awesome!

  8. the ultimate comfort food? darn tootin'! good heavens, what a combination! i agree that at first glance the recipe seems a bit iffy, but i'll take your word for its deliciousness!

  9. This sounds so good! What a great variation on a classic!

  10. This really does sound comforting and very tasty.

    How many servings are there from those measurements?

  11. hi ruth - thanks for pointing out that i forgot to include that information - i have updated my post to indicate that it yields 8-10 servings. hope you try it and enjoy it! :)

  12. I love this! I didn't see the episode, but hell, yours looks so good I have to try it!

  13. Wow, this looks fantastic! I'm adding this to my list for next week's menu