Mac and cheese is the most popular dish at my dinner table, so I’m always looking for new ways to step it up. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a big fan of the classic baked mac and cheese, but with the endless amounts of toppings and mix-ins available, I can’t resist the temptation to switch it up. This recipe is perfect for making ahead for a party or a quick weeknight dinner. The best part about it is the combo of savory, umami and nutty flavors from the caramelized onions, Worcestershire sauce and Gruyere, Asiago and Parmesan cheeses. With bites of buttery, crunchy panko throughout, it’s hard not to crave this unique take on a classic.
For the garlic panko topping:
Combine the panko, chopped chives, grated garlic, black pepper, melted butter and cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Once the mixture is evenly mixed, set aside for later.
For the French onion mac and cheese:
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 375 F and grease a large casserole dish with 1 tablespooned butter.
Place a large saucepan over low heat and add in the olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add in the finely chopped onions and garlic, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the onions cook down and become translucent.
Add in salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add in the remaining softened butter. Once the butter melts, stir in the flour to create a roux, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onions slightly darken.
Pour in the beef stock and milk, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Then, stir in the Gruyere, Asiago and Parmesan cheese. Stir in the cooked pasta once the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened.
Place the mac and cheese into the greased casserole dish and top with the panko mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden-brown and the cheese bubbles around the edges.
Once finished cooking, remove from the oven and serve immediately.