Although part of my New Year's resolution was to do more cooking at home, the fact that all of my pots, pans, and other cooking equipment are about to go into boxes is putting that plan on a bit of a hold. I'll be getting back to that goal once we're settled into our new place, but in sort of a last hurrah for my culinary career in my current kitchen, I decided to ring in 2012 with one of my best dishes, the caramelized onion, bacon, and Gruyere pizza that is much-beloved by my mother, and was one of the first dishes I ever wrote about here on "The State I Am In." Though I had made pizza from scratch with Justin last year, I had yet to make my most famous recipe for him to sample, so I figured it was time to stop holding out on him.
Tonight, since he was coming over for dinner again, I decided to prepare for him another recipe that I had been quietly keeping to myself -- mac and cheese Lorraine. After discovering my affinity for flavor combination of Gruyere, bacon, and caramelized onions, I started seeking it out in other forms a few years ago, and I found a mind-blowingly delicious mac and cheese recipe that touched on all three of that pizza's major ingredients. I've sometimes made it as a quicker, less fussy alternative to the pizza version that captures some of the magic of the original without going through the multi-hour effort of making a crust. More often, however, I've made it as a way of using up the leftover caramelized onions from making the pizza (it takes so long to make them, that I typically make more than I need just to have them on hand. They're also excellent in quesadillas with some blackened chicken.)
Justin is kind of an easy sell when it comes to any recipe involving bacon, so I was hardly surprised when he emitted a rapturous "Mmm!" before the spoon even reached his mouth. I was not prepared, however, for the startled exclamation of, "Oh my God, this is REALLY good!!" that came next. I was pleased that he liked it so much, but I don't think I've ever served him anything that was borderline inedible. There were some recipes I've tried in the last year that have been better than others, but overall, my cooking adventures tend to be relatively successful. I guess I should be happy that I can still surprise him at this point.
Now that I'm finally sharing this recipe with you, I think you need to try it. Yes, it's on the heavy side. Yes, it's not exactly New Year's resolution diet-friendly. But it will knock your socks off, and probably those of your significant other as well. Make it for someone who you're trying convince of your skills as a domestic goddess (or god, for that matter), and awe them your ability to produce a bowl of utter deliciousness. Or, do what I did before I met Justin, and make a pot just to pamper yourself. You deserve a tasty surprise too, after all...
Mac and Cheese Lorraine
adapted from Rachel Ray
1/2 lb. pipette or elbow macaroni
4 pieces bacon, chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. Gruyere cheese, grated
salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
1. Over medium-high heat, cook bacon to crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain.
2. To fat, add onions and cook 45 minutes to an hour until deep mahogany and well-caramelized, stirring occasionally.
3. While onions cook, boil the pasta and prepare sauce.
4. Heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter, melt, and whisk in flour. Cook one minute, then whisk in stock, milk, and cream, and bring to a bubble. Allow to thicken a few minutes, and season with salt, pepper, and a scant pinch of nutmeg.
5. Stir in cheese using a figure-8 motion.6. Drain pasta, stir in onion and cheese sauce to coat. Top with crispy bacon to serve.