Recipe: Bacon Mac & Cheese -

Recipe: Bacon Mac & Cheese

Who doesn’t love the ultimate comfort food, macaroni and cheese.  It is actually really easy to make and the additions to it are endless.  This version uses bacon (the other ultimate comfort food) in the crumb topping.  The smoky flavor of the bacon combines with the assorted cheeses really well. 

I have been frustrated in the past with homemade mac and cheese because it often curdles if heated too quickly or if it gets hot.  There is a way to avoid this and it requires the use of a two cheeses - velveeta cheese and cream cheese.  The velveeta and cream cheese allow the mac and cheese to be heated and reheated without curdling.  After these two, additional cheese or cheeses are added as you wish.  Swiss, Pepperjack, Brie, Cheddar, bleu cheese – any of these add to the taste.

Besides, remember there is bacon in this, which trumps everything else!

6 ounces bacon
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated sharp asiago cheese or parmesan cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons rendered bacon fat from cooking the bacon
8 ounces elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter (60 grams or 2 ounces)
1/4 cup flour (35 grams or 1 heavy ounce)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups whole or 2% milk
6 ounces velveeta, cut into small chunks
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into small chunks
5 ounces pepperjack or any other cheese desired, grated or finely cut. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 2 quart casserole and set aside.

Finely cut bacon and sauté until crisp.  Drain on paper towels.  The easiest way to cut the bacon is to freeze it.  Cut across the strips and then cut those pieces into fourths.  This will yield small bits when fried.

Combine the breadcrumbs and asiago cheese.  Mix in the cooked bacon.  Toss together.  Add 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat and mix to coat the crumbs.  Add another tablespoon if necessary.  Set aside.

Cook the macaroni for 7 to 9 minutes in boiling water until just cooked.  Drain and rinse.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour, salt and peppers.  Whisk to combine.  Add the milk and whisk until it comes to a boil, making sure to get into the edges of the pan.  Combine all of the cheeses and add to the milk mixture.  Stir until all the cheese is completely melted.  Add the cooked macaroni and stir to combine.   Pour into the prepared casserole and top with the bacon crumbs.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly and heated through.

Leftovers can be heated in the microwave or a 350 degree oven without curdling.

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