Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bacon Macaroni & Cheese

About 2 weeks ago I was reading a post by girlichef called Four Cheese and Bacon "Macaroni". My husband and I had discussed making a Mac Cheese with bacon and as I was reading her post I decided to make a four cheese Bacon Mac & Cheese. I did not use the same 4 cheeses she did as we don't typically eat American Cheese. Hubby doesn't like the texture or the fact that he fells it is very processed. Since I tend to agree with him on that, we don't buy it. If you do, please don't feel like I'm attacking your choice - I'm not, I was just explaining ours.

I honestly do not know why I have waited this long to make bacon mac and cheese. Absolutely delicious. Who doesn't love bacon? Okay, I have a love hate relationship with bacon... I hate how fatty it is but I love the taste. Can I tell you a secret - I trim the fat off my bacon. You'll notice in the photo below the bacon pieces don't have much fat. That's because I trimmed it before I fried it. Another weird thing - I look at every package of bacon in the store until I find one that I feel has enough meat. If there is no package that has enough meat I don't buy it, even if it is a super great sale. I think those are all my weird bacon quirks, except that I like crispy bacon... but I don't feel that is a quirk, just a taste/texture preference. Now on to the delicious dish. One more thing - I did not actually use Macaroni in this - we were out, so I guess I should have put my Macaroni in quotes like girlichef. :)

Bacon Mac & Cheese
Start your pasta water to heating (add 1-3 Tbsp salt to the water). I tend to forget to cook the pasta (or even start the water) until I want to add the pasta to the sauce.
 You'll need some bacon. I used 1/4 cup and 1/8 cup. Honestly I would have used more but after I trimmed all the fat off before cooking, this was all we had left (we had used some of the bacon already...)
 In the bacon fat (I actually cooked some fat separately to have bacon grease... weird I know!), saute 1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion.
 Once the onion is cooked, add 1-2 Tbsp butter (The amount of butter/bacon grease should be 3 Tbsp - eyeball it with the bacon grease.)
 Cook the butter for about 2 minutes - it helps the flavor.
 Toss in 2 Tbsp flour.
 Whisk the butter and flour together.
 Let the flour cook in the pan for a minute or two.
 Add 1 cup milk and 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) heavy cream to the pan. Add about half of the milk and blend with the flour mix and thicken slightly before adding the rest of the milk and cream.
 You'll have chunks of onion in there still. I know it looks like a lumpy sauce, but it shouldn't be. The best way to avoid a lumpy white sauce is to bring the milk to the same temperature as the butter & flour mixture before stirring.
  Next you'll need your shredded cheeses. I used 1 cup sharp cheddar, 1/2 cup colby jack, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and 1/8 cup Parmesan.
 Hubby was nice and grated all my cheeses while I was making the white sauce.
 Add the cheese in 3 additions to the white sauce (which was more brown due to the bacon grease and such.)
 Once all the cheese is added and melted, it's time to add the cooked pasta (I used 1 lb pasta - roughly 4-4.5 cups uncooked).
 Never add oil to your pasta water as it will interfere with the ability of the sauce to cling to the pasta. Also do not rinse the pasta either as it does the same thing...
 It is best to add pasta that has just been drained to your sauce. That way it doesn't have time to clump together and you won't need to rinse it.
  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked bacon as well.
 Toss until past is coated and bacon is scattered throughout.
 Place the pasta in a baking dish.
 Top with 1/8 - 1/4 cup more bacon pieces.
 In a pan melt 2 Tbsp butter.  (You can do this while the oven is coming to temp if you forgot to turn it on like I did...) Or you can make this while making the white sauce as the crackers only need stirred occasionally.
 Toss in 1 cup cracker crumbs (I used wheat saltines).
 Cook until toasted over medium heat.
 Top Mac & Cheese with crumbs. I love the texture the crumbs give the Mac & Cheese.
 Bake for 20 minutes at 350.
 Remove from oven. Inhale the delicious aroma.

1 comment:

  1. Num, num, I'm hungry for mac 'n chz again! There's just something so comforting and seductive about the combo of cheese and bacon and pasta...mmmm! Your version sounds delicious :D


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