Comfort Cocktail Hour: Negroni Sbagliato + Mini Mac’n’Cheese

Everyone’s got their favorite comfort foods. I also have my favorite comfort cocktail snacks. As Covid keeps us confined or you just want to stay indoors and cocoon, I’m sharing some of my favorite comfort cocktail snack combos. I like to keep my pairings to items I either already have – or easily could – in my fridge and cupboards. 

The crunchy onions work well with the bitter bite of the Campari in this Negroni Sbagliato

Negroni Sbagliato + Mini Mac’n’Cheese 

The bitterness of the Campari in this cocktail works well with the fried onion toppings – both elements have big personalities, but rather than bullying each other, they bouey each other, sauntering happily, arm in arm, down your gullet.  Plus the bubbles from the sparkling wine nicely cut through the richness of the cheese. I like the idea of these served in tiny bite-sized ramekins or bowls for an indulgent cocktail hour snack, but I think they would also work really well if served in a normal size ramekin alongside the cocktail as a starter course for a lunch or dinner before moving onto mains and wine. 

Garnish with a fresh orange zest or a dehydrated slice

Negroni Sbagliato 

1 ounce/30ml Campari
1 ounce/30ml sweet red vermouth
Sparkling wine to top 
Orange peel or dehydrated slice for garnish

Put the Campari and vermouth in a rocks glass
Add ice
Top with sparkling wine

Mini Mac’N’Cheese 

Like most of my comfort cocktail hour pairings I keep the work on this to a minimum. And I think many people have their own personal mac n cheese recipes, so use what you like as I’m not a professional mac-maker and tend not to get too precious about mine. But if you need a little guidance and don’t have your own favorite, here’s mine: 

Mac n Cheese 

¼ cup flour
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups grated cheese* 
2 TBSP butter
1 red onion
250 grams/2 – 2.5 cups of dried pasta**
Fried onions to top (I just use store bought)

  1. Cook pasta to al dente according to instructions 
  2. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, leave to drain
  3. Chop red onion finely
  4. Melt butter in large pot
  5. Add chopped onion and saute for a minute
  6. Add flour and stir for a few minutes 
  7. Add milk and stir over low heat until flour/butter are dissolved
  8. Slowly whisk in grated cheese in batches
  9. When all the cheese is melted, let sauce cool a bit
  10. Mix in cooked pasta
  11. Pour into mini-serving dishes and top with fried onions. Leave in the fridge to cook later or cook immediately. 
  12. Bake in a 350F oven until the cheese is bubbly and the top is crisp

*I like mix of either cheddar or gouda for half and an alpine cheese like gruyere or beaufort for the other half

**I like the mini macaronis because I’m often making mini-cups plus they’re cute. But go with the shape you prefer.

NOTE: Unless you are making a LOT of mini-macs, you will have leftover mac’n’cheese, which is a great thing. Put it in a pyrex baking dish, pop on a top and put it in the freezer for later. Cook it from frozen, putting a layer of tinfoil on the top for about 40 minutes, remove the tin foil and just keep an eye on it until it looks like the cheese is bubbling and the top is crispy.

Collection of Comfort Cocktail Hour Pairings

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