I wish I had known about cooking with hard cider sooner. I got my first dose of it’s culinary awesomeness at Thanksgiving 2011, when I added it to my pan gravy. We have about a case of of our local, homebrew cider left from that same year – that I’ve kind of been hoarding. But, when I saw this recipe I couldn’t resist going down to the basement to pull a bottle out.
I’d made a beer macaroni & cheese before, and I’d deemed it my favorite. But this version definitely gives it a run for it’s money. The hard cider lends a wonderful flavor, without being overpowering. And the addition of finely chopped Granny Smith apples and onions? Brilliant.
Spring is on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to it – but I’m trying to get my fill of winter warming favorites while I still can. And, nothing tops a big bowl of creamy, cheesy pasta. Especially when you bring booze to the party too!
Hard Cider Macaroni & Cheese
2.5 cups elbow macaroni (or another pasta shape)
1 cup hard cider
1 cup half & half
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 small onion, diced
16 ounces white Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (I like Cabot)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 6 minutes. Drain, and place in 2 quart baking dish. Set aside.
For the sauce; melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add diced onions and apples. Saute for approximately 5-10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Sprinkle flour over them and cook for about 2 minutes, mixing continuously until the flour has coated all of the onions and apples. Slowly pour in cider and half & half. Whisk constantly until mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Turn off heat, and stir in 12 oz of shredded cheese. Mix until smooth.
Pour cheese sauce over the cooked and strained pasta in the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the sides are bubbly and cheese is browned.
Source: adapted from Bakeaholic Mama