I know, I know… I say this every time I make macaroni and cheese. I’m like the boy who cried wolf, only I’m a fully grown lady and I’m crying “THIS IS THE BEST MACARONI AND CHEESE EVER!”
Seriously though, this time. Truth. It’s pure creamy, delicious, grown-up, macaroni and cheese gold. With little yummy nuggets of ham.
(P.S. The word ‘nuggets’ makes me giggle. So, maybe I’m not as fully grown a lady as I originally claimed to be.)
I grew up on homemade macaroni and cheese, and I probably make it more often than I should, but I can’t help myself. I see the fancy cheese display at the local Trader Joe’s and it’s like a siren’s song. I don’t even look at the price tag half the time, just start dropping bricks in the basket (heh, heh… ‘dropping bricks. See, I’m a child.)
This particular recipe was the result of one such cheese spree, when I splurged on a brick of Emmentaler Swiss that cost more than my first car. Probably.
(P.S. again… My first car was nothing to write home about. Can you say ‘bench seats and a tape deck wedged in place with a rolled up hand towel’?)
Not like this ham n’ swiss combination, which is definitely something to write home about… or at least a rambling blog post.
Ham and Swiss Macaroni and Cheese
(makes 4 – 6 servings)
8 oz dried penne pasta (cooked to al dente and drained)
4 tbsp unsalted butter (divided)
3 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 oz Emmentaler Swiss cheese (shredded)
4 oz Gouda cheese (shredded)
2 cups cooked, cubed ham
Fresh parsley (finely chopped for garnish)
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt 3 tbsp of the butter over medium-low heat, then add the flour, mustard powder, salt and ground white pepper and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and increase the heat to medium and cook (still whisking) for 5 – 7 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Reduce the heat to low, gradually add the shredded cheeses, and stir to melt completely.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the remaining 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat and add the chopped onion. Saute until the onions soften, then remove the pan from the heat and add the wine. Return the pan to low heat and simmer, uncovered, for around 5 minutes or until most of the wine has evaporated.
Add the winey onions to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Add in the cubed ham and cooked pasta and stir to evenly coat…
Cook until the pasta and ham are heated through, then spoon into serving dishes and top with a sprinkle of minced fresh parsley.
Damn that Emmentaler Swiss. One bite, and you’ll be yodeling for more.
I’m making this tonight. Adding some frozen peas at the last minute.