The Coterie Room's Sweet Onion Mac and Cheese


Sweet Onion Mac and Cheese [Photograph: Steve Legato]

While I am almost always partial to baked macaroni and cheese, I sometimes lust after my childhood Velveeta-based concoctions. In Mac & Cheese, Ellen Brown adapts The Coterie Room's Sweet Onion Mac and Cheese to satisfy that craving.

This is a recipe for sauce-lovers, but it's no Velveeta shells and cheese. The sauce is based on soubise, a fancy French word for creamy onion sauce; onions are caramelized, pureed, and then stirred into a luscious cheese sauce with a lusty trio of fontina, Parmesan, and cheddar. A sprinkling of crisp fried shallots tops this decadent dish; they may seem to guild the lily, but their textural contrast is welcome amongst all of the creaminess.

Why I picked this recipe: Caramelized onions and fried shallots made this creamy mac irresistible.

What worked: Once again, I had no problems following the recipe as written, and I may just incorporate caramelized onion puree into all of my cheese sauces from now on.

What didn't: I found the sauce a little thick, and I found 5 minutes to be plenty of simmering time (instead of 10). Next time, I'd go down on the flour a bit (perhaps dropping it to 3 tablespoons or 1/4 cup instead of a full 1/3 cup).

Suggested tweaks: I'd like some more herbs in here for a bright contrast to all of the dairy, but otherwise there's not much here to tweak.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Mac & Cheese to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at

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