28 November 2010

Our 3rd cold day, and a Gratin de macaronis

It was cold again yesterday, and we had snow flurries all day, on and off, but with no accumulation. Today it's not quite so cold but there is a thick layer of cloud hanging low in the sky and, just for good measure, ground fog. Gloomy is the only word for it.

On such a cold day as yesterday, my thoughts turned to food, of course. And after two days of lamb for lunch, I wanted something different. And comforting.

I found a French recipe for Gratin de macaronis. That's called Macaroni and Cheese in America, but this one is a little different. It has lardons (ham or bacon cubes), eggs, and cream in it, in addition to, well, macaroni and cheese. It's also seasoned with nutmeg as well as with salt and pepper.

The ingredients for French-style macaroni and cheese

Here's the recipe. Use more or less cream and cheese according to how rich you want the gratin to be and how much macaroni you are cooking. Use whatever cheese you like: Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, etc. I also stirred in some fresh chopped parsley, because I had some from the garden.

Gratin de macaronis

¼ lb. bacon or ham, cooked and crumbled or diced
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. macaroni, cooked
1¼ cups cream or half and half
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
a grate or pinch of nutmeg
½ lb. cheese (or more), grated

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Cook the bacon or ham in a skillet and set aside.

Cook the macaroni in boiling water until it's just done, but not overcooked, and drain it. Put the butter in a big bowl and add the hot macaroni, stirring it around so that butter melts and coats the noodles. Let it cool slightly.

In another bowl, mix together the cream and eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste and just a little bit of nutmeg (a hint of nutmeg flavor is always good with melted cheese).

Dice or crumble the cooked ham or bacon and stir it into the warm macaroni. Pour in the egg and cream mixture and add the grated cheese, saving some cheese to spread on the top if you want. Stir it all together well.

Pour all into a baking dish. Add grated cheese over the top or not. Cook it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes
or until golden brown.

Macaronis au gratin

This macaroni and cheese casserole really is a full meal, with a green salad on the side. It contains eggs, cheese, meat, and macaroni. That's pretty rich and still balanced. As you can see from the photos, I spread buttered bread crumbs over ours because we always have a lot of bread crumbs in the freezer, and I like the crunch.

P.S. I just looked out the window (10 a.m.) and it is snowing again.

P.P.S. At 12:30 p.m. we have about two inches of snow and it's still falling heavily.


  1. The perfect food for today Ken... but that is the strangest macaroni I've ever seen.... fluted! British macaroni for macaroni cheese is much smaller in diameter and smooth.... yours looks much better for carrying sauce! Snow steadily falling here too... but it hasn't put the chasseurs off... I looked up towards the woods just now to see a line of flourescent red gilets glowing through the gloom.

  2. I agree that the ribbed macaroni you used looks wonderful for this dish. I bet it was nice and chewy. Delicious!

    I loved Walt's photo (on FB) of the snow!


  3. My mum often made macaroni cheese for tea on a Sunday when I was a liitle girl. She used to put bacon bits in, but no cream - cream was purely for special occasions.

    Just thinking about it brings back memories of "Songs of Praise" on the telly, followed by doing a jigsaw puzzle before an early bedtime for school the next day.

  4. Tim, that macaroni comes from SuperU, and is the store brand. I think I've bought the same kind in the U.S. too.

    Judy, Walt just came back from walking Callie and says he estimates our snowfall at 6" so far. And it is still snowing.

    Jean, nice memories. Mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food, n'est-ce pas?

  5. Holy cow! I just looked at the weather forecast for Tours, France, and it says, "chance of snow" for you guys: Sunday night, Monday, Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday, Wednesday night, Thursday, Thursday night, Saturday, and Saturday night!

  6. Our town had snow last week, which has now melted and gone away. However it is still chilly. We had tuna noodle casserole for dinner tonight. We'll have to try your gratin de macaronis. It looks delicious.

  7. Looks so good. I've got to try this. Thanks.


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