Mac Cheese Casserole
Mushroom & Kale Mac & Cheese Casserole with Bacon
- Half a Spanish onion finely diced
- 1 teaspoon each of freshly chopped thyme & sage
- 23 ounce can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
- 1 pound of large macaroni noodles cooked
- 16 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 bunch of black/lacinato kale blanched & chopped
- 5 strips of cooked bacon roughly chopped
- Vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
For the herbed breadcrumbs:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup Japanese style panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon each of freshly chopped thyme & Italian parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Couple crack of fresh pepper
Prep: Remove the center stalks from the kale and blanch the leaves in salted boiling water for 90 seconds. Prepare and ice bath in a large bowl, remove the kale from the pot and submerge in cold water for 1 minute. Squeeze all the water out of the kale, finely chop it, and set it aside.
Cook the bacon on a sheet tray in a 400 degree oven for roughly 15 minutes until crispy. Roughly chop and set aside. Boil the macaroni noodles in salted boiling water, drain and set aside.
Make the herbed bread crumbs by melting the butter in a small non-stick pan and adding the remaining ingredients. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture is golden brown.
Begin cooking by pre-heating a large pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of veggie oil. Add the onions, sage, thyme, along with ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and a couple cracks of pepper. Cook for 5 minutes stirring often. Take the pot of the heat and add the cream of mushroom soup, mix well. Splash a little bit of water inside the can and pour it in the pot. Add the cooked macaroni noodles and mix to combine. Add the cheddar cheese, chopped kale, bacon, and mix well. Taste the mixture, it might need another ½ teaspoon of salt.
Pre-heat the broiler to high and spray a little non-stick spray in an 8x12 baking dish. Transfer the mac and cheese mixture to the baking dish and broil for 5 minutes until the top is nicely browned. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
Take out of the oven and top it with the herbed bread crumbs and some crumbled crispy kale leaves*. This casserole can be made hours ahead of time, when ready to serve, pop it under the broiler and then finish with the toppings.
Cook’s Note: To make the crispy kale leaves, pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees and toss some torn kales leaves, stems removed, with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy. Keep your eye on them because they burn easily
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