I know it's way too hot out to be making this sort of thing, but I don't care. It is sooooooo good. This is a French onion soup inspired macaroni and cheese with caramelized onions, boatloads of cheese, and a buttery breadcrumb topping with thyme. Yum, yum, yum. Oh yeah, and a little bit of white wine (shoutout to Broken Dreams - my fave white of the moment). I made this with Melissa of Smells Like Brownies and it was one of those magical recipes that is so much fun to make and doesn't stress you out during the process (though that may have been the wine taking effect...).
Step one is to get the onions going, of course. Can't have French onion soup without onions! Pop those bad boys into a heavy bottomed pan with olive oil, butter, and thyme. Is there any better flavor combo than onions and thyme? I like to start them at medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low once they are translucent.
After 15 minutes, they should look kind of like this. Add a splash of white wine and a sprinkle of salt and keep cooking for another 15-20 minutes. Remember to take out the thyme stems when they are done.
Next up, you are going to make a bechamel sauce with lots of cheese. SO MUCH CHEESE. Like a mountain of cheese.
And then fold cooked pasta into that cheesy sauce. So good. I used gemelli here, because it is my favorite short pasta. It really holds up, maintains a chew, and doesn't fall apart.
Pour the pasta mixture into a baking dish and top with the caramelized onions. Anyone who loves French onion soup knows there has to be a piece of cheesy bread baked on top. To get that effect here, we top with a mixture of breadcrumbs, butter, and thyme.
Gorgeous. Bake that bad boy up - 350 for 20 minutes.
French Onion Mac and Cheese
adapted from Savory Simple
4 medium yellow onions, sliced into thin half moons
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp dry white wine
1/4 tsp salt
1 box short pasta
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups milk
12 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
6 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs (I like panko)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
salt and pepper
In a heavy bottomed pan add butter, olive oil, onions and thyme over medium-high heat. Saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent (about 5 minutes), then turn heat down to medium-low. After about 15 minutes stir in white wine to deglaze the pan and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Continue to caramelize the onions until they are golden brown in color, 15-20 more minutes. Remove thyme stems and set onions aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta 2 minutes less than package directions. Rinse in cold water (note that I would only ever do this for pasta salads and baked casseroles) and set aside.
Add butter and flour to a medium sauce pan over medium heat (you can rinse out and reuse the pasta pot). Whisk constantly until a paste forms. Slowly pour in your milk while whisking constantly. Bring sauce to a boil.
Mix in garlic and cheese while stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When all the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Fold in the cooked pasta, then pour into a large casserole dish. Top with caramelized onions.
Place breadcrumbs in a bowl and work butter in with your fingers in a massaging motion. Stir in thyme leaves and sprinkle over the onions. Grind some salt and pepper over the top.
Bake at 350 deg F for 20 minutes, until the top has browned and the cheese is bubbling.