Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham and Cubed Sourdough

Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham and Cubed Sourdough on http://www.theculinarylife.com

 - This macaroni and cheese casserole is a culinary trinity of Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Black Forest Ham -

Thanksgiving is coming up. Even though it’s later than usual this year – to the degree that it’s magically synced up with Chanukah – it still creeped up on me, sneaking around in little mousy slippers. I love Thanksgiving, but this year I’m just too tired to cook. The book tour for Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese was short but intense, and left me with a lingering cold that thinks it’s found a cozy place to hang out for the winter. (I heartily disagree and am doing all I can to evict said ick – out, damn bug!)  I am so, so glad to be home; I am so, so glad that the cold, reflective season is upon us; and I am so, so beat that the idea of cooking for the holidays makes me want to curl up into a tiny ball and wave the white flag.

But cook I will, because that’s what I do.

So my solution is to make a dish so easy I could prepare it in my sleep. And, perhaps, do all the work the day before so that my actual Thanksgiving holiday isn’t gummed up by a kitchen panic. You know I’ve got macaroni and cheese on the brain lately, so here’s a super simple macaroni and cheese casserole recipe for you. A game changer of a hearty mac that takes very little work but yields  awesome results. Huzzah!

This dish has a long name but a short timeline: Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham and Cubed Sourdough. These cheeses are available pretty much everywhere, though you can use all Gruyére if you want, or all Emmentaler. You could swap out Gouda or cheddar for the Gruyère, and plain Swiss cheese or Monterey Jack for the Emmentaler. In other words, use whatever damn cheeses you like in this dish, as long as they’re melty and decadent.

Note: you can find Gruyère and Emmentaler cheeses at Trader’s Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco, or most natural food stores and artisan cheese shops. I’ve even seen them at Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons, Kroger, and Lucky’s, though it will entirely depend on the ordering habits of the store’s cheese buyer.

If you’re hoping to beat the Thanksgiving kitchen craziness, I recommend constructing this macaroni and cheese casserole the day before, including everything but the cubed sourdough topping (we don’t want those lusciously crunchy little cubes to get soggy, do we?), and then keeping it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Pull the casserole out of the fridge about an hour before you bake it to let the dish come to room temperature. Then, as soon as you pull the turkey out of the oven, add the bread cube topping to the casserole and slide it into the oven to bake while the turkey rests.

This dish is a game changer on so many levels: it’s simple but elegant, with a gorgeous array of textures that will tempt even the most sullen bah-Thanksgiving Scrooge. And since you can make it a day ahead with not a whole lot of work, consider this my early Christmas gift to you.

And for my awesome vegan readers? Here’s a vegan macaroni and cheese dish, just for you!

And Now for Something Competely Different: Steph and Garrett on Fox40 TV

As a side note, Garrett and I recently appeared on Fox40 News in Sacramento, where we made the avocado mac and sampled it with the news crew. We thought we’d share the segment so you can take a peek. Enjoy!

5.0 from 3 reviews

Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham and Cubed Sourdough
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

 
Gruyère, named after the Swiss district of Gruyère, is a lovely, hard cow’s milk cheese known the world over for its seductively melty personality. Luscious and smooth, Gruyère is often paired with Emmentaler to make what can only be described as a superlative fondue.

With Gruyère and Emmentaler intertwined in a heady embrace, we toss Black Forest ham into the mix, making for a sultry ménage à trois of flavor and texture. Topped with chunky cubed sourdough for crunch, this casserole is more than delicious—it’s sinful.

Alternative cheeses: Any reputable Gruyère and Emmentaler will go well in this recipe. Ask your local cheesemonger.
Wine pairings: Viognier, Altesse, Roussanne, Pinot Noir, dry rosé.
Additional pairings for the cheese: toasted walnuts, bacon, crusty bread.

These cheeses are available pretty much everywhere, though you can use all Gruyére if you want, or all Emmentaler. You could swap out Gouda or cheddar for the Gruyère, and plain Swiss cheese or Monterey Jack for the Emmentaler. In other words, use whatever damn cheeses you like in this dish, as long as they’re melty and decadent.

Note: you can find Gruyère and Emmentaler cheeses at Trader’s Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco, or most natural food stores and artisan cheese shops. I’ve even seen them at some Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons, Kroger, and Lucky’s, though it will entirely depend on the ordering habits of the store’s cheese buyer.
If you’re hoping to beat the Thanksgiving kitchen craziness, I recommend constructing this dish the day before, including everything but the cubed sourdough topping (we don’t want those lusciously crunchy little cubes to get soggy, do we?), and then keeping it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Pull the casserole out of the fridge about an hour before you bake it to let the dish come to room temperature. Then, as soon as you pull the turkey out of the oven, add the bread cube topping to the casserole and slide it into the oven to bake while the turkey rests.
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 10 ounces Gruyère, shredded
  • 8 ounces Emmentaler, shredded
  • 8 ounces Black Forest ham, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 cups sourdough bread cubes, each about ½ inch square, crust on
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.
  3. To prepare the mornay sauce, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to steam and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium flame. Add the flour and stir with a flat-edge wooden paddle just until the roux begins to take on a light brown color, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon—a finger drawn along the back of the spoon should leave a clear swath. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper. Add mustard and cheese to sauce, stirring until completely melted.
  4. Pour pasta into greased baking dish and toss with ham. Pour the cheese sauce over the top of the pasta and stir gently to incorporate into the ham and noodles. Top liberally with bread cubes, slide into the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

 

Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese on http://www.theculinarylife.com

 

Comments

  1. Shikha @ Shikha la mode says:

    Carbs on carbs, I’m into it! Love that sourdough, too!

  2. Fun interview, Steph. Congratulations on your book! Point, though, is that the cameraman on the Sac news segment engaged in some crazy moving camerawork that made me feel like I was watching a reality tv segment…which it kinda was, but still!

    I liked how he placed you in the middle with your coauthor to the side. You all got talk time but you were the cutest one on stage and deserved center spot. What happened to your pink hair?

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Yeah, I’ve gotten that comment a few times re: the camerawork. Did you ever see the movie Cloverfield? ;)

      I traded the pink hair in for purple, but you can’t tell under those lights until you look really closely! But it’s a pretty deep ultraviolet. When you can see it, it’s pretty awesome.

  3. KRISTIN NICOLE says:

    I love mac-n-cheese and I am always looking of ways to improve mine and change it up, this looks delish, and I was just thinking about trying something new. THANK YOU for this recipe.

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