Macaroni and Cheese with Black Forest Ham

By Kelly Elkins

This recipe is very easy to make! I’m not one to find any joy out of cooking but this was a recipe I will definitely continue to make now that I know how easy it is.

I did make a few changes due to preference and time constraint. Instead of making the garlic oil, to save time I just used regular olive oil. Also, I forgot to buy fresh garlic at the store so instead of running back to the grocery store, I used minced garlic that I had in the fridge.

Next, I decided against the fresh bread crumbs because I had some seasoned bread crumbs in the pantry and thought they would be a quick  alternative. Everything went smoothly without any hiccups. My husband and I enjoyed it so much that we decided to make it as our contribution for Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious even with the few shortcuts, but I decided next time I make it, I will do everything exactly like the recipe calls for. I can’t imagine how good it will taste then!

This is a moderately easy recipe that even an amateur cook can make with ease.

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic oil

2 large shallots, minced

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/8 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

10 roasted garlic cloves, mashed

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

8 ounces (2 cups) cubed Black Forest ham

1 pound bowtie or elbow pasta, cooked al dente

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons garlic oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute for 4 minutes or until tender. Whisk in the milk, cream, thyme, lemon zest and garlic. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes or until reduced to 2 3/4 cups, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and the Cheddar cheese gradually, stirring until blended. Add the ham and mix well. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Spoon the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons garlic oil in a bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over the prepared dish. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

Ask for Black Forest Ham at the deli counter to be cut into 1-inch slices. Cut into cubes at home.

Yield: 6 servings


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