Mac-n-cheese topped with crab, shrimp, bacon, mushrooms, chilies — all have become as mainstream as cheese-sauced noodles to accompany craft beer. I usually joke when visiting a new brew pub that the menu must have mac-n-cheese, or it’s not a bona fide brewery.
But how about macaroni and cheese baked with the beer? I’m sure it’s been done plenty, but I don’t recall seeing it at any of the brew pubs I frequent. Here’s the proof from Denver’s Rackhouse Pub, which allowed the Los Angeles Times in 2010 to publish its recipe boasting five cheeses. Local brew pubs take note.
Beer-Baked Macaroni and Cheese
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup amber beer
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 pound Brie cheese
16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (16-ounce) box penne pasta, cooked and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup panko or breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 350 F.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a light roux. Slowly whisk in the beer and half-and-half.
Add the Brie and cream cheese to sauce, stirring until cheeses are melted and incorporated. Stir in the Gorgonzola, cheddar and 1 cup of the Parmesan.
Stir in the pasta, taste and adjust seasonings as desired with the salt and pepper (some cheeses will be salty, and mixture may need only a little salt, if any).
Pour mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top mixture by sprinkling over remaining Parmesan cheese and the panko crumbs. Place dish in preheated oven and bake until sauce is bubbly and toppings are crisp and golden, for about 1 hour.
Cool slightly before serving.
Makes 12 to 16 servings.