Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bacon Makes everything Better: Bacon Laced Macaroni and Cheese

During my attempts to keep a group a hungry teens fed, I whipped up a big batch of macaroni and cheese.  I made it even tastier by adding bacon! mmmmm......bacon..... I know for a fact there are people out there who thick we eat bacon all the time.  Rest assured, we don't.  We wish we could eat bacon all the time but we don't.  I mean who doesn't wish they could eat bacon everyday?  I really don't think my arteries would love me for that.  Yes, I have made a few posts about bacon lately, but we really don't eat bacon that much.  We are just on a bacon kick.  My original mac n cheese recipe can be found here. This turned out to be such a hit, my son sent leftovers with his guests!

Hickory smoked, pepper crusted bacon....mmmmmmm

Bacon Laced Macaroni and Cheese - please note, there is nothing really health about this is just darn tasty....
Printable recipe
You will need:
  • ½ lb bacon, cut into pieces and fried crisp. (Save the bacon in a safe spot, away from bacon lovers to prevent unwanted snacking)  Feel free to use more bacon if you would like more bacon in your mac, or just some to snack on as you go...
  • ¼ cup bacon fat
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 cups half and half, warmed
  • 1 healthy squirt of hot sauce (tobacco or sirracha)
  • 1 healthy squirt mustard (yellow, Dijon....whichever you have)
  • 2 boxes macaroni (tonight I used cavatapi, they were both just under a pound of pasta each)
  • 3 cups Grated old cheddar
  • 1 cup Grated Gouda (reserve a small amount of both cheeses for the bread crumb topping)
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 or 3 tbsp bacon fat (or olive oil, or melted butter)
  • ¼ cup asiago

Butter a 9 x 13 baking or casserole dish and set aside.
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Cook the pasta al dente so it won’t be soggy after baking.  If your package of pasta has a minimum boil time, use the lowest time it gives.  Drain well and put aside until the cheese sauce is ready. ( I usually just dump the pasta into the pan I am going to bake it in.) 

Cheese sauce

While the water is heating, in a large saucepan, melt the butter with the bacon fat so you can start your bechemel sauce.

Add ½ cup flour to the pot to make a roux.  Stir the fat and flour together and cook for couple of minutes.  This will cook out any raw flour taste.

While whisking, pour in 4 cups of warmed half and half, whisking to prevent lumps.  (I find that when I use the milk cold from the fridge, the roux seizes up and gets too lumpy to stir into a smooth sauce.)  Also add the hot sauce and the mustard.
Continue to heat and stir over medium until the milk thickens.

Once the sauce thickens, add the cheeses and stir to melt.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir.  I like to save a dish and combine the pasta and the sauce in the dish I will be baking it in.

Add the reserved bacon pieces (or what is left of them after everyone walks by and eats some), and stir to combine.

Now it is time to make the delicious crumb topping...mmmm... Idea!!  Some tomato slices would be awsome on this!!

Mix together the ½ cup of panko bread crumbs with 2 or 3 tbsp of bacon fat (or use oil or melted butter).   Use enough to get the bread crumbs damp.   Add the ¼ cup of asiago cheese and the little bit of reserved grated cheese to the bread crumbs.

Sprinkle the top with the bread crumb topping.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until hot, bubbly, and the topping is a nice golden brown.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it certainly does make everything better, and with cheddar AND gouda, well, it started out pretty danged good.


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