Caramelized Onion Apple Mac And Cheese
French onion soup meats mac and cheese with an apple twist. Sounds a little outrageous but it’s a pretty epic combo for a mac and cheese. Totally creamy and cheesy with the most perfect crispy edges thanks to finishing it off in the oven and using panko crumbs over top that get extra crispy and ones that stay extra crispy. These particular panko crumbs don’t only add crispiness but they add tons of flavour too.
I was introduced to this particular panko by a foodie friend on Instagram. They are pork panko made from pork rinds. They caught my attention as I have plenty of friends who are gluten intolerant and also friends and family that follow a keto diet. When it comes to coating meat with bread crumbs or using bread crumbs in meatballs or as a topping for casseroles they are a little more limited. I thought this was such a fabulous idea and option for people like that and totally wanted to try them. I was so happy to partner up with Bacon’s Heir the company who created them along with Pork Clouds which are fluffy chicharonnes cooked in olive oil. They make the Pork Panko by grinding pork rinds into the fineness of crispy panko. Pretty genius.
You can imagine the flavour they impart to anything you use them in. I’m a fan of pork with anything sweet so I immediately envisioned this Pork Panko going over a mac and cheese that incorporates some sort of sweet component to it. I first thought of caremlized onions as they get sweeter after carmamilzing and they add incredible flavors to just about anything. Then I thought of apples - as pork and other meats are lovely with apples (check my Cider braised apples and chicken thighs one the blog for more proof or my Pan Seared Sausages And Apples). It was done. I was on the search for a mac and cheese recipe that is pretty easy that incorporated all those things and would taste fabulous with the Pork Panko over it. And so it happened and it did not disappoint.
The result - a very creamy and luscious mac and cheese enhanced by the caramelized onions, and the subtle sweetness of the apples. Topped with more gooey cheese and of course you need that crisp component over the cheese in every baked Mac and cheese - so finally topped with lots of Pork Panko. It’s a fabulous side. We devoured it and if ya wanted to take it a step further you can easily add some bacon bits to the mix too and make a meal out of it.
I loved using the pork panko on the mac and cheese and it would be the perfect topper to any baked casserole. I can wait to experiment more with them! Love that as they are made completely from pork rinds, they are gluten free, carb free and high in protein. Perfect for all those who may be looking for a gluten free panko bread crumb option that is delicious and stays totally crispy. Check out their website for more genius ideas on how to use them and also how you can get your hands on them.
This is a sponsored post for Bacon’s Heir. All thoughts and views are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Olive & Mango possible.
- ½ cup butter
- 6 cups onion, thinly sliced
- 3 apples (I used gala) , peeled, cored, and medium dice
- 5 Tbsp flour
- 3½ cups milk
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 4 cups smoked Gouda, grated
- 3 cups Muenster cheese, grated and divided (mild white cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese would work fine as a substitute)
- 1-½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 lb pasta (use a fun shape), cooked and cooled
- 1 cup Pork Panko crumbs to top the dish with
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large stock pot , melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until golden brown and caramelized, about 20–30 minutes.
- Next, add and sauté the apples for 1–2 minutes.
- Stir in the flour until combined.
- Pour in the milk. While stirring continuously, let it come up to a slight simmer with the milk thickening. Remove from the heat and add the fresh thyme, Gouda, 1 cup Muenster, salt, and pepper, mustard and paprika.
- Stir until the cheese has fully melted and the mixture is smooth (if needed, put the sauce pot back on low heat until the cheese melts).
- Fold in the pasta and pour the mixture into a 13” x 9” casserole dish or into minis.
- Top it with the remaining Muenster cheese and the Pork Panko crumbs and Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and the top is golden brown.