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Bacon Mac & Cheese

August 9, 2012
Bacon Mac and Cheese

That’s right, bacon mac & cheese. Because one day you look at your comfort food and think to yourself, how can I make this better? Naturally the solution is to add bacon.

This recipe was a no brainer. The base for my mac and cheese is a béchamel sauce which requires butter, flour, salt, and milk so it’s an easy substitution to use bacon fat instead of butter. Plus, if you don’t save your bacon drippings like I do, then you also have nice crispy bacon to add as well, which I really, really recommend.  I actually cook bacon just to add even though I DO have a trusty supply of bacon drippings in a ball jar in my fridge.

Now let’s talk a minute about cheese. I like to use a combination. I add smoked provolone, havarti and cheddar to the sauce and top with cheddar.  I’ve also made this with bleu cheese in the sauce and cheddar on top – what a super combination! It has tang and bite. You really can’t go wrong as long as you like the cheeses together.  That said, parmesan and cheddar probably aren’t great partners. A good parm will overpower the dish if you use the full cup in the sauce. Keep that in mind when plotting your cheese course. Generally creamy cheeses do well in the sauce and harder or aged cheeses do well on the top (and in the sauce!).

Ingredients

  • 2 cups macaroni
  • Salt
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice
  • 3 crumbled bacon strips
  • Additional 1-1/2 cups of cheese for topping

 

Boil your macaroni according to package directions. Err on the side of al dente so you don’t wind up with cheesy mush. You want the noodles to hold their shape.

Melt bacon fat in a small sauce pot over medium high heat. When liquid, add flour and salt, stir to combine. Let the flour get absorbed into the fat before whisking in the milk. Whisk in the milk until a smooth consistency is reached. You may need to use a spoon to get in the corners of the pot. Continue whisking (keeps the roux from burning on the bottom) until the sauce comes to a boil. The sauce is now as thick as it’s going to be by itself (useful to know when making a béchamel for other purposes without cheese). Add your sauce cheese.

Pour noodles into an 8×8 pan or loaf pan. Add your crumbled bacon. Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir to incorporate. Now top with your topping cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned to your satisfaction.

You’ll notice there is no final photo, that’s because it’s sooo good I can’t even let it cool a bit before it’s all divvied up on folks’ plates!  Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean. The smell from the oven is amazing!

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