My favorite time of year, and this recipe highlights some of the best parts of Ireland. Guinness and any cheese those beautiful grass-fed cows produce. This creamy, dreamy mac and cheese is perfect for a Friday night during lent or any day of the week.
Please note: Guinness is low in alcohol (despite its black glory) but not all of the alcohol will burn off during cooking, omit it (and replace with pasta water or more milk) if you have concerns.
On another note, as much as we love our Dubliner cheese, it’s a bit too dry and isn’t a great melting cheese (save it for your Irish charcuterie board!) for this mac and cheese, I prefer Kerrygold or other sharp cheddar.
Grated onion and some dijon really max out the flavor in this mac and cheese. The Guinness adds a nice bitter note that compliments the richness.
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is an amazing exhibit. From a graphic designer’s (that’s me!) point of view, it was wonderfully interactive and so well done. Old combined with new, new with old, it is a fascinating exhibition. The food and drink were of course top-notch. Definitely worth the price of admission. Don’t forget to hit the Gravity Bar, Dublin views for miles.
Loaded with flavor, this Irish Cheddar with Guinness Mac and Cheese is perfect for a Lenten Friday. Don’t forget the crispy bread crumb topping, which is even better made with Irish Brown Bread. Cheers!
- 8 oz. cavatappi pasta or other short macaroni
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Irish butter
- 2 tablespoons grated onion (about 1/4 medium onion, grated on a box grater)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup Guinness or other stout beer (use the canned Guinness if you can, it’s closer to the tap version unless of course, you live by a pub that can pull you a fresh one)
- 1 cup whole milk (you may need more)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese, cut into pieces
- 6 oz. grated Irish cheddar (or good melting cheese, I use Kerrygold Cheddar*
Irish Brown Bread Crumbs:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs** made from good crusty bread, or better yet, Irish Brown Bread
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, roughly minced
Breadcrumb topping (if using):
- Preheat oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, add the breadcrumbs**, drizzle with olive oil some salt, and pepper, mix well. Toast for about 15 minutes, until getting lightly browned. Add garlic and continue to toast for another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted. Remove from the oven, add the minced parsley. Set aside.
Macaroni and cheese:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt (to season the pasta) add the pasta and cook until just al dente (1-2 minutes less than the box recommends). Before draining the pasta, reserve a cup of the pasta water and set it aside***. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce:
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the onion and sauté until softened for about 4 minutes, sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together for a minute or two to cook off the raw flour taste (when it smells nutty). While whisking, add the dijon and stir for 1 minute. Pour in Guinness, milk, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, until it thickens slightly (it may take several minutes).
- Add cream cheese, stir until melted. Turn the heat to low, add 2½ cups grated cheddar, and stir/whisk until completely smooth. Add drained, cooked pasta and stir to combine. Add remaining 1 cup grated cheddar and stir until melted. Let the mixture sit over low heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently so that the pasta can soak up some of the sauce.
- Sprinkle the top with the reserved breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.
*Please do not mistake Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese for Irish Cheddar. As much as we all love Dubliner, it is not a good melting cheese (save it for your Irish Cheeseboard), and won’t work well in this recipe. Use a good sharp to replace if needed.
** To make the breadcrumbs: place torn pieces of crusty bread in a food processor and pulse into pieces. It’s okay if some are larger and smaller than others. If using Irish Brown Bread, you can probably crumble with your fingers.
***If the macaroni and cheese thicken up too much, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water (or additional milk) to make it creamy again.
**** Note on the Guinness. Guinness is only 4% alcohol, and this recipe doesn’t simmer enough to burn it off. Omit if you are concerned about consuming alcohol.
Keywords: Irish Cheddar Mac and Cheese, Mac and cheese with Guinness, Irish macaroni and cheese
Happy st. patrick's day and thanks for reading.
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