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Dinner tonight! Beer-baked mac 'n' cheese

January 30, 2013|By Noelle Carter
  • Beer-baked mac 'n' cheese.
Beer-baked mac 'n' cheese. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

There's something wonderfully simple about ooey-gooey cheese baked with pasta. Adding a little beer just takes that magic to a whole new level. This recipe, from the Rackhouse Pub in Denver, is one of our mac 'n' cheese faves. The recipe combines no less than five -- yes, five -- kinds of cheese in a rich base lightened with a cup of amber ale and then baked under a crust of panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese to rich, crisp, golden perfection. You can find the recipe below.

Hungry yet? Want some more?

It seems everyone has his or her own secret to this classic comfort great. It's one of our most popular requests for our Culinary S.O.S. column, and we've run a number of great variations over the last few years. For all you mac 'n' cheese fanatics, I've compiled some of our favorite recipes. Variations include grilled chicken and white truffle oil, batches with several kinds of cheese, spiced-up mac 'n' cheese....

Click on the links to check them out, and let me know about your favorite mac 'n' cheese:

For more quick-fix dinner ideas, check out our video recipe gallery. Food editor Russ Parsons and Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter show you how to fix several dishes in an hour or less.

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You can find Noelle Carter on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. Email Noelle at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

Beer-baked mac 'n' cheese

Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Servings: 12 to 16

Note: Adapted from the Rackhouse Pub in Denver.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup amber beer

2 cups half and half

1/2 pound Brie

16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese

1 1/2 cups crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 (16-ounce) box penne pasta, cooked and drained

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup panko or bread crumbs

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium, heavy-bottom pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a light roux. Slowly whisk in the beer and half and half.

3. Add the Brie and cream cheese to the sauce, stirring until the cheeses are melted and incorporated. Stir in the Gorgonzola, cheddar and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.

4. Stir in the pasta, taste and adjust the seasonings as desired with salt and pepper (some of the cheese will be salty and the mixture may need only a little salt, if any).

5. Pour the mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Top the mixture with the remaining Parmesan cheese and panko crumbs. Place the dish in the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the toppings are crisp and golden, about 1 hour.

6. Cool slightly before serving.

Each of 16 servings: 566 calories; 20 grams protein; 29 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 41 grams fat; 25 grams saturated fat; 123 mg. cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 611 mg. sodium.

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