Mac n’ Cheese
Nov 12, 2014 04:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Who doesn’t love a good macaroni and cheese? This version is perfectly cheesy and worth the extra effort over breaking out the boxed stuff. This recipe incorporates an interesting flavor from the tomatoes—and bacon if you decide to really go all-out—and the toasted breadcrumbs add the perfect finishing touch. This is the easiest dish out of all the slow cooker dishes this week; simply combine and heat all the ingredients required before transferring to the slow cooker. Don’t be intimidated by the foil collar, it’s really just a lining that keeps the casserole from burning on the edges and actually aids in the clean-up process. The toasted breadcrumbs couldn’t be easier to make, too. A food processor is required, but a blender can be used in a pinch. I found everything I needed at Whole Foods, except for the condensed cheddar cheese soup, which can be found at Shoppers. Yes, this soup is Campbell’s and cheats a bit on the clean eating front, but splurging is just fine every now and again, and worth it for this cheesy perfection.
Ingredients – Serves 6 to 8
- Vegetable oil spray
- 1 (28- ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
- 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporate milk
- 2 (11-ounce) cans condensed cheddar cheese soup
- ¼ cup water, plus extra hot water as needed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 cup toasted bread crumbs, optional (See below)
- 4-6 strips of bacon (optional)
1. Line slow cooker with aluminum foil collar (see below) and coat with vegetable oil spray (see below). Bring tomatoes, evaporated milk, condensed soup, water, 1 teaspoon salt, mustard, and cayenne to simmer in large pot. Slowly whisk in cheddar and Monterey Jack until completely melted, then stir in macaroni.
2. Transfer macaroni mixture to prepared slow cooker. Cover and cook until macaroni is tender, about 2 hours on high.
3. Remove foil collar. Gently stir pasta, adding hot water as needed to loosen sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs, if using.
Aluminum Foil Collar
Most slow cookers have a hotter side (typically the back side, opposite the side with the controls) that can cause casseroles to burn. To solve this problem line the slow-cooker insert with an aluminum foil collar.
To make a foil collar layer and fold sheets of heavy-duty foil until you have a six-layered foil rectangle that measures roughly 16 inches long by 4 inches wide. (Depending on the width of the foil, you will need either two or three sheets of foil.) Press the collar into the back side of the slow-cooker insert; the food will help hold the collar in place during cooking.
Toasted Bread Crumbs:
Process 2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into pieces, to coarse crumbs in food process, about 10 pulses. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and toast, stirring often, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer break crumbs to bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 1 cup.
Adapted from: “Tomato Macaroni and Cheese.” Slow Cooker Revolution. Boston Common Press Limited Partnership. 2011. Print.