Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta and Caramelized Onions

Macaroni and cheese is made with a creamy white sauce made from three different cheeses and half-and-half, then topped with shredded mozzarella and baked with crispy pancetta and caramelized onions.  Light, creamy and delicious, I promise everyone will be back for seconds!

What better way to surprise our girls when they come home from college and find some good old fashioned comfort food like Mac and Cheese.  I had some pancetta leftover in the fridge and decided to use it with this recipe to give my mac and cheese a little more punch of flavor.  And, it did!

The pancetta added a nice smoky flavor, not too overpowering. While the trio of cheeses I used, mozzarella, mild cheddar and Gruyere gave it a nice mild flavor to this mac and cheese along with the creamy-cheesy texture everyone adores. 

I also added some caramelized onions into the mix to add even more flavor, and used half-n-half instead of heavy cream or butter.  Then I easily mixed everything directly into my casserole dish, and baked in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes.  Then I carefully removed the casserole from oven and topped it with more shredded mozzarella cheese, and baked it for 5 minutes more, until the cheese was completely melted.

Everyone gave me a thumbs up, even my daughter who is a picky eater.  I was so happy it turned out really well!  Best of all, no need to use a mixing bowl, all the ingredients are easily blended into your baking dish, making clean up a little easier.

The best part is taking leftovers (if any) for lunch the next day!  Enjoy!

Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta and Caramelized Onions
  • 2 cups elbow pasta
  • 1 package (4 ounces) Pancetta-chopped
  • 2 to 3 medium Sweet Onions-chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded Mild Cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese -divided
  • 3 ounces Gruyere cheese -minced
  • 1 +1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Spray lightly all sides of a (7 x 11) medium size casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, cook the elbow pasta in boiling water with 1 teaspoon of salt.
Cook pasta for about 7 minutes until "al dente." Drain.
Meantime, in a large skillet, cook the pancetta until fully cooked and crispy.
Drain and discard the fat. Transfer to a 7 x 11 baking casserole dish.
In the same skillet add olive oil and sauté the onions for about 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are tender and golden brown. Transfer onions to the baking dish.
Using a wooden spoon, transfer the cooked elbow pasta to the baking dish.  Add 1+1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella (reserve the other 1/2 cup for topping), cheddar cheese, Gruyere cheese, and fresh cracked black pepper.  Pour in the half-and-half.  
Stir and mix everything until well combined. 

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove and stir gently. Top with remaining shredded mozzarella. Bake for additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese on top is completely melted.  Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 6

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