Comfort food oh comfort food where art thou comfort food? Right here with Ham Apple Mac and Cheese.
As I said in my last post-fall is here, and I’m ready for comfort food. Since I can remember, I have LOVED mac and cheese. I’m not even fussy about it. I can rock the blue box or indulge in Lobster Mac and Cheese one of our first recipes so please overlook the pictures…….we have improved a lot!!!!
Anything is fair game for me with mac and cheese. When I was making the Pecan Apple Crisp Bars for our last post, I was thinking of making savory apples, and then I was thinking of mac and cheese, and then my mind traveled to the ham I needed to use in the frig….. lots of thinking that day!
Bouncing ideas off Tim is how I try out things that I’m not so sure about. He seemed receptive to the recipe idea, so I ran with it.
Chopped ham and onions with tart granny smith apples, sauteed just until the apples were tender.
Pasta? Here just go with the shape you like. Make sure to cook the pasta al dente as it will cook again when baked and you don’t want mushy pasta.
Mac and cheese sauce is a basic rue ( butter and flour) with milk or cream (I use some cream for…..creaminess). Once thickened add the cheese of your choice. For this recipe, I chose a white cheddar, and a smoky gouda you can really make mac and cheese as personal as you want. Add the pasta to the sauce and gently stir in the ham, apple, onion mixture.
Comfort mac and cheese at it’s best has a crunchy topping. For a crunchy topping, you can’t go wrong with panko crumbs. Toss a little melted butter with the panko crumbs and sprinkle over the mac and cheese. Bake until bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
You can easily make this dish ahead and bake it when you are ready. I would not add the topping until it’s time to cook, as you may want to add a touch of milk since pasta can absorb some of the sauce.
Serve with a nice green salad and loaf of crusty bread for a comfort food feast!Print
1 tablespoon avocado oil (any cooking oil will work)
2 cups chopped ham
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces dried small pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon grainy brown mustard
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese,
1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat Add the ham, apples, and onion. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes; set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and ground black pepper until combined. Add milk and cream. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add both mustards and both cheeses, stirring until melted. Stir pasta, along with the ham, apple, onion mixture. Transfer to a 2-quart square baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl mix melted butter and panko until crumbs are coated with butter. Sprinkle mixture over pasta in the baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, and serve.
Keywords: ham, granny smith apple, pasta, smoked gouda chess, white cheddar cheese, mac and cheese, bake, comfort food