Mac & Cheese with Cornbread & Ham

This unique mac and cheese dish combines sweet, savory and full flavors for a one-of-a-kind creamy mac.

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Servings: 8


  • 3 pounds ham hocks
  • 1 cup + 6 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound macaroni pasta
  • 1 cup yellow onion, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups green apples, cored and diced
  •   Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups Wisconsin muenster cheese or mixed milk (cow, sheep and goat milks) cheese, shredded


Place ham hocks and water in large pot or Dutch oven. Simmer over low heat 2 to 3 hours or until hocks are tender and pulling away from the bone. Remove hocks from liquid; set aside hocks and reserve liquid. When hocks are cool, shred meat and reserve; discard bones.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. In medium bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt until well blended.

In separate medium bowl, mix egg, 1 cup reserved ham stock and butter. Using wire whisk, beat egg mixture into flour mixture. Pour into pan. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool on rack.

Crumble 1/3 of cornbread by hand. Reserve remaining cornbread. Spread crumbs in jelly roll pan. Return to oven; bake 15 minutes or until crumbs are dry, stirring once. Set aside.

Bring remaining ham hock liquid back to a boil. Add pasta; cook as directed for al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta and spread on baking sheet to cool. Do not rinse or toss with oil.

In 3-quart nonstick saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until caramelized, stirring often. Season with 1 teaspoon salt or to taste. Remove from pan; set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to same pan. Cook until melted and starting to brown. Stir in apples; cook on high heat 3 minutes or until tender and golden. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from pan; set aside.

Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter to saucepan. Cook over medium heat until melted. Stir in flour. Cook until bubbly. Gradually whisk in milk with wire whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and cheese; stir until cheese is melted.

Heat oven to 400°F. Butter 8 12-ounce ramekins or 3-quart casserole. Stir onions, apples, shredded ham and pasta into cheese sauce. Place mixture into casserole or divide among ramekins. Top with cornbread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated and crumbs are golden brown. Serve remaining cornbread on the side.

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If you have trouble mastering a smooth and creamy cheese sauce using the béchamel method and feel comfortable playing around with your recipe, consider using evaporated milk.