Add a touch o’ the Irish to your mac and cheese! Guinness and Dublin cheddar turn an American comfort food classic into Irish mac and cheese.
With a name like Coleen, and red hair, do you think I might be a little bit Irish? Well, you’d be right! Might explain my love of cheese, alcohol, and the color green.
I will not get on my annual soapbox about how corned beef is not part of traditional Irish cuisine. OK, maybe a quick review: Ireland produced a large quantity of corned beef; almost all of it was exported. Irish immigrants in America used it as a substitute for bacon, which was more expensive in the New World. Anyway …
No, this Irish mac and cheese isn’t traditional, either. Consider it Irish-American fusion. The classic American comfort food gets an Irish twist with Irish stout beer and Irish cheese in the sauce.
The dish also gets a generous helping of bacon, another food commonly found in Irish cuisine. Minced fresh sage leaves add even more flavor.
For my Irish cheddar, I used a combination of Kerrygold Irish Aged Cheddar and Kerrygold Dubliner Irish cheese. Gruyere is a kind of Swiss cheese, and if you see a variety of “ages” (the labels say “aged 3 months” or “aged 9 months”), go with the “older” cheese if your wallet allows. Both will be delicious, but the older cheese has a more complex, nutty flavor.
Some tips for mac and cheese success: do not let your milk mixture boil. If your milk is too hot when you add the cheese, it will break, and become a greasy, gloppy mess. For perfect pasta texture, subtract one minute from what the manufacturer’s instructions give for al dente. Your pasta will cook a bit more and absorb some of the cheese mixture while in the oven, and come out just right.
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- 16 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 5 tbsp salted Irish butter
- 2 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup stout Irish beer
- 3 oz shredded smoked Gruyere
- 8 oz shredded Irish Cheddar
- 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/2 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, minced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2 1/2-quart casserole or baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water, then add the macaroni and cook according to the instructions until just al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the hot cooking liquid, then drain the pasta. Set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, in 3 quart saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the milk, half-and-half, and evaporated milk just to a simmer, keep hot.
- In a 4 quart saucepan, over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter and stir in flour until it begins to turn golden brown. Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture, mustard, salt, cayenne, and stout, and bring to a simmer. Do not let it boil.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in cheeses until melted. Add the macaroni and bacon crumbles to the cheese mixture and stir to coat. Transfer to a baking dish.
- Combine the breadcrumbs and minced sage. Spread over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Spritz lightly with nonstick baking spray or an oil mister. Bake for 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs have turned deep golden brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 620 Saturated Fat: 18g Cholesterol: 94mg Sodium: 740mg Carbohydrates: 54g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 7g Protein: 24g
Adapted from Food Network
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