Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Apple and pork macaroni and cheese


This past weekend was a fun and food-filled one. On Saturday I spent the day at the 10th Annual World on Your Plate conference. I attended some workshops, listened to speakers, ate delicious local food, and met some great people. Then on Sunday I canned (again) - this time applesauce and a hot & sweet chili-garlic sauce. Last weekend we went apple picking at LynOaken Farms where they have a lot of heritage apples - so we were able to pick and sample all kinds of different apples this year.  It was a lovely day and it is definitely one of my favorite fall activities. Even though I make a bunch of applesauce, and we eat an apple a day after picking, we always end up with a lot to use. Of course, I'll make a pie, but I like to try out apples in other dishes as well. Hence this super decadent autumn mac n' cheese. I was left with a bit of applesauce that wouldn't fit in one my my jars, so I used it in this dish along with some local pastured pork, spices, and creamy cheese sauce. It's autumn in a dish. I served this mac n' cheese with a side of roasted romanesco. It's a really rich dish, so a vegetable is highly recommended. It will easily serve about 6 people.


Apple and pork macaroni and cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 lb. ground pork
1 shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
a few grinds of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/4 cups plain unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided
1 lb. shell or other short-cut pasta

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. 

In a large cast iron or other heavy-bottom skillet, heat the olive oil and add the pork. Cook, breaking apart with a spoon, until it is browned and cooked through. Drain excess fat. Add the shallot and spices (sage through salt) to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the applesauce and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter. When it melts, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking often, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Let heat, whisking often, until the milk begins to thicken. In the meantime, heat a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta until just under al dente. Then drain.

When the milk begins to thicken, remove from heat and whisk in the cheese about 1/2 cup at a time, reserving about 1/2 cup of the Gruyere. 

Gently combine the pork mixture, pasta, and cheese sauce in the pot you used to cook the pasta. Then transfer it back into the cast iron skillet or a lightly buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Gruyere on top. Transfer to the oven and bake until bubbly and the top turns golden, about 10-15 minutes. 


What was I cooking one year ago?: Apple-turkey burgers with cranberry-apple relish
Two years ago?: sauteed red Swiss chard
Three?: spaghetti squash gratin

18 comments:

  1. This looks amazing and is now on my grocery list for the weekend! Great idea!

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  2. Mmh Amy, this looks exactly like my kind of autumn comfort food.
    Great idea to use apples in a main dish and not only for desserts.

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  3. What an interesting idea! A great way to kick up Mac 'n Cheese - very creative. Thanks so much!

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  4. What a way to combine two classics! Apples & mac and cheese. Sounds very fall and comfort food to me!

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  5. This is a mac and cheese twist that I've never seen before! I bet it tastes amazing with the apples. I am all about sweet,savory combinations! :)

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  6. An ultimate comfort food! A great twist on a classic, Amy.

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  7. What a cool twist on mac and cheese :)

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  8. This is so great! i love the fall twist on mac n cheese!

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  9. I love mac and cheese, but with apples - oh goodness, this is pure comfort perfection!

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  10. What a perfect combo, Amy! The addition of apples sounds genius. This is a perfect fall dish indeed ;D

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  11. What a tasty combination of flavors and textures.

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  12. This sounds like a tasty dish. I love the combination of ingredients.

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  13. Great idea, Amy! This year we had a late freeze or I'd be making sauce, too! I love applesauce.

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  14. Sounds like a great flavour combo -- yum!

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  15. Tiene un aspecto delicioso cerdo y manzana me encanta sobremanera,abrazos.

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  16. i like your cheese choices, and the applesauce is a really neat trick! pigs like apples so very much. :)

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  17. Can't go wrong with bubbly, golden brown mac and cheese! I love the idea of bringing apple into the equation. Yum!

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