Need Comfort? Make Southern Style Macaroni, Cheese, and Ham in Your Slow Cooker
This really is a comfort casserole. It provides comfort in terms of great taste, inexpensive and accessible ingredients, and how easy it is to make. I make the dish frequently when I have leftover ham to use and am tired of cooking. You pretty much just mix everything together, and the slow cooker will do the rest. And, no, you don't have to boil the pasta first! I usually set the slow cooker on high for the first hour of cooking time and then turn the heat down to low, but you can leave the slow cooker on low heat for a longer time, if you prefer. The dish is "done" when the pasta is as soft as you'd like it and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Although macaroni is traditional, feel free to experiment with other types of similar-size pasta. I routinely substitute penne or spirals, if those are what I have on hand. The photos below show the dish made with penne. Also feel free to use whatever cheese you have. I like to use cheddar,
colby-jack, and similar sorts of cheeses, but you can vary the recipe to use what you have on hand. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Southern Style Macaroni, Cheese, and Ham -- Serves 6+
3-4 cups of chopped ham
8 ounces of macaroni, penne, or similar size pasta, uncooked
2-3 tablespoons of minced dried onions
2 1/2 - 3 cups of shredded cheese, divided (cheddar, colby-jack, etc.)
4 large eggs
12-ounce can of evaporated milk (regular is best, not fat-free)
2 cups of milk (low fat is fine, here)
1/4 teaspoon of salt (depending on how salty your ham is, you may need more or less)
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
Chopped green onions (optional)
Spritz the insert of a large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray, set the temperature on the slow cooker to high, and layer into the slow cooker insert the ham, pasta, dried onions, and 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. In a large bowl, whisk together well the eggs, evaporated milk, milk, salt, pepper, and Dijon. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients in the slow cooker and mix everything together gently. Cover the slow cooker and cook the pasta mixture for about an hour on high. Turn down the heat to low and continue cooking the pasta mixture for three to four more hours. Begin checking to see if the pasta is done to your liking and the liquid has been absorbed after a couple of hours (slow cookers vary, so it's best to check early). When the pasta is almost done, remove the slow cooker lid, sprinkle the remaining 1 - 1 1/2 cups of cheese evenly on top of the pasta, and replace the lid. Let the mixture sit for about five minutes or until the cheese has melted. Turn off the slow cooker and remove the lid. If you let the pasta sit for 5-10 minutes, the pasta will firm up a bit, which will make for neater servings. Just before serving the dish, sprinkle on some chopped green onions, if you'd like.