For the First Annual Mac & Cheese Cookoff Contest at Rabbit’s Foot Meadery on March 30th, I created my own recipe inspired by a restaurant dish I had once plus an online recipe using hard apple cider. The rules were to start with all the ingredients from a box of Kraft brand Mac & Cheese, then go wild! I used my own hard apple cider homebrew for this batch because I’d rather save my Rabbit’s Foot/Red Branch bottles for drinking!
I’ve participated as a contestant and a taster for the meadery’s chili cookoffs and soup cookoffs before, but the word was spread wider for this one with over a hundred RSVPs, so they opened up the brewing floor with tables to accommodate all the entries, and there was a long tasting line! I’m very glad I made a double-batch to fill my crockpot! The one that won 1st place was all out before I got there, so I have no idea how his recipe compared to mine, but we both included bacon. The 2nd and 3rd places were both too spicy for me, but at least I got a respectable number of first place chips in my cup!
Here’s my recipe if you’d like to try it!
Apple Cider Caramelized Onion Bacon Mushroom Mac & Cheese
Add-ins for 1 box of mac & cheese, or any other recipe yielding 4 cups cooked.
Prepare the basic mac & cheese according to the box instructions:
Boil 6 cups water, cook pasta for 7-8 minutes until tender. Drain pasta, then while still hot, stir in 4 Tbsp butter, 1/4 cup milk, and powdered cheese packet until creamy.
Cook uncovered in a large skillet over medium heat until onions are caramelized and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from pan and stir in to the prepared mac & cheese.
Cook uncovered in the same skillet over medium heat until apples are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated but also deglazed the flavor from the onions & bacon. Salt & pepper to taste. Remove from skillet and stir in to the prepared mac & cheese.
I put the double-batch in my crockpot crock but put it covered in the fridge overnight. When I left for work, I put it into the crockpot on low heat so it wouldn’t dry out. When I got home, it was hot & ready to drive it to the contest, and didn’t dry out all evening. I did have about half left, which I enjoyed over the next week…yum!
You can see all my photos of the fun evening in the gallery below. Hope you enjoy making your own embellished mac & cheese!