We are all looking for those delicious make ahead dishes that are perfect for holiday dinners. Anything to help ease the workload on the big day, right?
Well, when I laid my hands on Ina Garten's latest cookbook, Go-To Dinners, her Overnight Macaroni & Cheese recipe just jumped off the page. I just knew I would be serving it for Thanksgiving!
Now I've never made an overnight macaroni and cheese before, but I have total trust in Ina's recipes so I was willing to risk making this recipe for the first time on Thanksgiving day. This recipe was so very easy - anyone could, and should, do it!
You simply cook your pasta for about 4 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, you get a rather large bowl and fill it with 4-1/2 cups of heavy cream and the Gruyere and Sharp Cheddar cheeses. You season with salt and pepper and then stir in the drained, hot pasta. Ina grates some nutmeg in there. I didn't. Then you refrigerate the mixture for 24 hours. Don't fret when you uncover the macaroni 24 hours later to see that all the cream has been soaked up (picture below). It is going to be okay. I added a splash of whole milk to loosen things a touch and then transferred all the macaroni to the baking dish.
The macaroni needs to sit out for about an hour so that it can come to room temperature before being baked. Top it with the remaining Gruyere and Sharp Cheddar and then make some fresh white breadcrumbs. Use some good bread because these breadcrumbs are THE BOMB.... holy cow, they totally make the dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with some melted butter and cover the top of the macaroni and cheese. Put this baby in the oven and in about 25-30 minutes you are in for the most indulgent, creamy, cheesy, most delicious breadcrumb topped macaroni and cheese of your life! Seriously, those fresh breadcrumbs are total perfection and make the whole dish.
This Overnight Macaroni & Cheese was the hit of the entire Thanksgiving meal. Everyone raved about it and requested it again for next Thanksgiving! Thanks, Ina!
Overnight Macaroni & Cheese
Adapted from Go-To Dinners
by Ina Garten
salt and black pepper
12 ounces cavatappi pasta*
4-1/2 cups heavy cream
3 cups Gruyere cheese, divided (8 ounces)
1-1/2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar, such as Cabot, divided (4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for the dish
2-1/2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
A day before you plan to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and cook for 4 minutes (it will be undercooked). Drain (don't rinse) and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium (10-inch) bowl, combine the cream, 1-1/2 cups of the Gruyere, 3/4 cup of the Cheddar, the nutmeg, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper. Stir the hot pasta into the cream mixture, cover the bowl with plastic, and refrigerate for 24 hours. The pasta will absorb the cream and expand.
When ready to bake, allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for about one hour. (You can also microwave it for 4 minutes) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Butter a 9x 13 x 2-inch baking dish. Stir the pasta mixture well, transfer it to the dish, and spread it evenly. Combine the remaining 1-1/2 cups Gruyere and 3/4 cup Cheddar and sprinkle evenly on top. Combine the breadcrumbs and the 3 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown. Serve hot!Thankful @ IHCC