Gruyère Mac and Cheese with Balsamic Grilled Onions and Smoked Bacon (aka Mac and Cheese #2)
When creating the recipe for the European-inspired Mac and Cheese #2 at DMK Burger Bar in Chicago, Chef Michael Kornick knew he needed to incorporate the great cheese of Europe, gruyère. The gruyère used is nutty, rich, and well-aged, resulting in a sweet, but slightly salty depth of flavor. The charred balsamic red onions enhance the rich flavor of the gruyère. Last, but certainly not least, the Wisconsin apple smoked bacon is added because, “everyone loves bacon and cheese,” said Michael.
- 8 thick strips of bacon
- 1 large red onion sliced into ½ inch rings
- 1 oz canola oil
- 1 oz balsamic vinegar
- 1# rotini pasta
- 1.5 oz melted butter
- 1.5 oz flour
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1.5 cups milk
- 6 oz heavy cream
- 10 oz grated gruyère
Cook bacon till crisp and chop roughly. Reserve warm. Brush the onions with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, char well, and cook until tender. Let cool, then splash with vinegar and reserve.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook melted butter and flour together for five minutes, stirring constantly over low heat to make a roux.
In a separate pot, boil the milk and cream. Add the garlic to the roux, then whisk in the milk and cream. Bring mixture to a boil quickly, whisking continuously. Let simmer for ten minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the cheese, season with cayenne, salt, and pepper. [Note: If it is too thick, add a touch of milk or water, the consistency should be thick, holding a soft peak.] Fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce. Place mixture over onions in a casserole dish and top with the crumbled bacon. If it’s not quite warm enough, flash in a hot oven for a few minutes and serve!
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