And you have my husband to thank for finding it.
My husband, who cooks more than I do, is always on the lookout for good recipes, especially for those served at the holidays or for special occasions. He’s been on a quest to find a go-to macaroni and cheese recipe for several years. For a while, he settled on Patti Labelle’s macaroni and cheese, which apparently made Oprah cry.
Then he stumbled upon this recipe published in 2010 by the Los Angeles Times from the Rackhouse Pub in Denver. With two sticks of butter, two cups of half-and-half and five different cheeses, it is over-the-top good. The crunchy breadcrumb topping is the perfect contrast to the underlying cheesy, gooey goodness.
Before the dietitians in the area start sending me hate mail, let me be clear: This is not an everyday dish. It’s a once-in-a-while, celebratory, impress-the-dinner-guests dish.
And if you are ever visiting Denver, the Rackhouse Pub still serves it and has added a sixth cheese!
Beer-Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Originally printed in Los Angeles Times’ Culinary SOS column in 2010. Recipe adapted from the Rackhouse Pub in Denver. Recipe tester’s note: If you are not a fan of blue cheese, omit it and add an extra 1 cup cheddar cheese. The restaurant uses this beer: Railyard Ale from the Wynkoop Brewing Co.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup amber beer
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 pound Brie
16 oz. (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-oz.) box penne pasta, cooked and drained
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko or bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium, heavy-bottom 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 the sauce, stirring until the cheeses are melted and incorporated. Stir in the Gorgonzola, cheddar and 1 cup Parmesan.
Stir in the pasta, taste and adjust the seasonings as desired with salt and pepper (some of the cheese will be salty and the mixture may need only a little salt, if any).
Pour the mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Top the mixture by sprinkling over the remaining Parmesan cheese and panko crumbs. Place the dish in the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the toppings are crisp and golden, about 1 hour.
Cool slightly before serving.
Yield: 12-16 servings.