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September 12, 2007 / Tony

Ale and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Of course, I wasn’t satisfied with the great mac and cheese recipe in the post below.  I wanted to see if I could make it better.  Here’s my recipe: 

Ale and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz elbow macaroni

1 onion, julienned thinly

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground mustard

2 1/2 T butter

2 1/2 T all-purpose flour

1/2 cup beer, preferably a light lager

2 cups milk

3/4 pound shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

olive oil

To begin, start a large pot of salted water to boil, heat a large saute pan with olive oil over medium heat, and start melting 2 1/2 T butter in a saucepan or saucier.  Place the onion in the saute pan over and cook until they are caramelized about half way through.  When the water begins to boil, cook the macaroni according to the package directions but make sure to not overcook-it should be al dente.

In the saucepan, after the butter melts, add the flour, salt, pepper, and mustard.  Stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is smooth and bubblyl.  Smell it-it should not have any odor of raw flour to it.  If it does, cook it a little longer.  Then add the milk about 2/3 cup at a time stirring frequently, waiting until the mixture thickens until adding more.  At this point, you can turn the heat up to medium.  When all of the milk is incorporated add the beer.  Bring the mixture to a boil and take it off the heat. 

Place one half of the macaroni in an ungreased 2-quart baking dish.  Sprinkle with pepper and then spread half of the caramelized onions over the pasta.  Sprinkle one half of the cheese over the onions.  Then repeat the process.  Pour all of the white sauce over the pasta and cheese.  In a small bowl, mix the panko bread crumbs and just enough olive oil to moisten them.  Spread evenly over the top of the mac and cheese.  Bake covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered until the top becomes a nice golden brown.  Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

Here’s what my finished product looked like:


What I really like about this recipe is how grown-up it feels.  Yes, mac and cheese is a throwback to those golden childhood memories of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  I realize that but you know what, that stuff stinks.  It tastes terrible.  So, any mac and cheese that tastes less like that is a good thing in my book.  In this recipe, the little bit of beer adds a nice, slightly bitter taste to the dish while the caramelized onions add considerable sweetness and an unbelievable complexity of flavor.  The cheese and white sauce become exceptionally creamy and rich.  And the bread crumbs add a great texture constrast.  It was really good. 

But was it an improvement?  I don’t know. . . maybe there has to be another macaroni and cheese competition.  (Bridget won the first and only such competition with her Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese recipe.) 


Leave a Comment
  1. big brother / Feb 2 2008 10:52 pm

    So, my dear daughter Katie requested homemade Mac and Cheese for her birthday supper…

    Didn’t have a recipe so did the

    melted butter in sauce pan (half a stick)
    added about half a cup or more of flour
    cooked off until golden brown
    added 1 cup or so of chicken stock
    half a cup a beer
    cup of half and half
    fresh ground pepper
    and noodles.

    Baked in a casserole for twenty minutes.

    I wanted to add crushed “cheez its” to the top but conceded to Kate’s request and sprinkled shreded cheddar.

    Katie rated it an “A” not and “A+”

    Kelsie gave it an “A+”

    Kassie’s rating was a “B”

    Kelly and I ate meatloaf with green olives in it.

  2. Alexis / Sep 9 2009 6:29 pm

    Well, I wanted to improve on it myself and used the top recipe (the one with the onions) and added a tablespoon of worchestercire and 1/4 cup crumbled bacon. It was the hubby’s favorite meal I’ve ever made. Soooooo yummy!!

  3. BCbrews / Jul 28 2010 12:24 am

    If you’re recommending using light lager, I would suggest calling it Beer and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese instead. Lager isn’t an ale. However, if you used Applewood Cheddar, a pale ale should do nicely.

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