Leftover Cheese Plate Mac ‘n Cheese

Posted On July 19th, 2012 Author Lia Rinaldo  Comments: 0

This is kind of amazing and was just pointed out to me this weekend.... if you know me, you know me as a marked carnivore. I eat meat, talk meat, plan meat, dream meat and yet I have somehow only posted completely vegetarian recipes here in my first twelve weeks of blogging. Hilarious!  I am quite dumbfounded as to how this might happened, except to say, there's definitely no real plan here. So, people, this is going to change right now. Although I will say that the recipe I am going to give you here can be made vegetarian in two seconds by dropping all of the meat out, I just wouldn't recommend it. Haha.

There are a lot of gatherings that involve cheese plates around me. I was told this weekend that it was probably my signature move because they don't just happen here at home, but also on the road when travelling or heading to friends' places–camping cheese, cheese on boats, cheese for a valley barbeque, cheese on Welsh mountain tops... the list goes on. This weekend, we hosted Summer Cheesemus or Cheesemus in July, if you will. It's funny, I still don't want to describe Cheesemus just yet here. It needs it's own solo post and a long explanation. In fact, it feels like I have to pitch you on it, though I doubt it would be hard to convince many of you of the need for this very specific holiday. Regardless, there were a lot of people here very late with a lot of cheese & wine and one hell of a lot leftover. So, it's times like these, with a hangover raging and a need for the most dramatic kind of comfort food, that call for one large ooey gooey pot of Leftover Cheese Plate Mac 'n Cheese. So, late afternoon sunlight streaming into the kicthen, PJs still on and blasting some of the musical stylings of Charles Bradley... it all came together once again. 

This is a recipe with a couple of parts and is more of a stove top kind of a mac 'n cheese as opposed to the baked versions. It's best right off the stove, and even though I may drag it out for a few meals, it never tastes as good as that first moment. It tends to gum up as it cools so the best way to reheat it is to heat it slowly on a low setting back on the stove, adding water and mixing occasionally. This one is a beaut! Well, for me. Both of us love it in fact and I don't think we've ever shared a pot of it with others. We usually make the drunken plan for friends to come back and enjoy it with us in the heat of the moment, but alas, mine all mine. Excuses. 

Leftover Cheese Plate Mac 'n Cheese

Makes enough for a small Italian hungover army. 

For the Sauce (adapted from the Betty Crocker classic)

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup shredded leftover cheese- you can use anything I swear, though I always try to make sure that there is an aged smoky cheddar or gouda, along with a few melted soft cheeses (rinds cut off) or even a boursin giving it a cream cheesey hit

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

The Rest

2 onions

1 pound of lean ground beef

8 strips of Montréal Smoked Bacon, chopped - I like the version that Pete's Frootique does, all bacon is basically created equal. 

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon canola oil

500g of pasta- my fave for this is the Divella Gnocchi from the Italian Market, but you just need a pasta that can grab the sauce, like the spirals I used in the photos here.

salt & pepper to taste

1. Make cheese sauce. Heat butter in a good-sized saucepan over medium heat until melted. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, dry mustard and chipotle powder . Cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture is smooth and bubbling. Slowly add the milk. Heat to boiling, keep stirring, about a minute or so. Stir in cheese until melted and set aside. 

2. Caramelize onions. In a cast iron skillet on med-high, melt remaining butter and add in a tablespoon of canola oil. Once hot, throw in the onions and fry, browning and stirring them for a couple of minutes. Then turn the heat to low and let them sweat it out and reduce for half an hour or more. Remove the onions out of the pan and set aside. 

3. Cook the meat. In the same skillet, keep heat at med-high and add in the bacon. Cook until crispy. Strain the bacon and spread it out on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb some of the grease. Set aside. Add in hamburger and cook until browned through (there will still be some grease in the pan from the bacon and that's a good thing). 

4. Boil pasta in a large pot over high heat. Drain and then put the pasta back in the same pot. 

5. Assembly required. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and mix well to coat. Then add meat and onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm. 

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