Cook Once, Eat Thrice: A Grown-Up’s Mac-‘N’-Cheese Dinner

web1Photo: Courtesy of Erin Phraner.

French Onion Macaroni And Cheese
If you’re going to make the effort to cook dinner, we here at Refinery29 think you should be rewarded with multiple nights of no-stress eating. That’s our way of saying: We love leftovers! And, since we already gravitate toward recipes that give us the best (most) leftovers possible, let us introduce you to our new favorite cooking concept this fall “Cook Once, Eat Thrice.”

These large-batch recipes are perfect for repurposing and/or reheating. Make them on a lazy Sunday and reap the benefits for days. To kick things off, we whipped up this grown-up macaroni and cheese loaded with slow-cooked onions and Gruyère cheese. A fresh, green salad is the ideal accompaniment to this rich weeknight meal — and maybe a bottle of your favorite French wine, too.

Serves: 12
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 tbsp unsalted butter
3 yellow onions, halves and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound rigatoni
4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups grated Gruyère cheese (about 1 pound)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 to 2 cups torn stale bread
Fresh thyme leaves, stripped, for serving

1. Heat two tablespoons each olive oil and butter in a very large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat (you want to give the onions rooms to sweat. Work in two batches, if necessary). Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes — it’s worth it!
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook as the label directs; drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375˚. Warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave. Melt the remaining four tablespoons butter in another pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking until bubbling and golden, two to three minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm milk in a steady stream. Continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, five to seven minutes or until the milk mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Gruyère cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, mustard powder, two teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Stir in the rigatoni and caramelized onions.
4. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to a lightly oiled nine-by-13-inch baking dish. Toss the bread crumbs and remaining two tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Put the baking dish on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake about 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately (sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves) or cool, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to four days. To reheat, microwave individual portions in 30 second intervals until warm, or warm in a 350˚ oven for about 10 minutes.

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