Bacon Mac and Cheese

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I didn’t have to try this before I knew it would have to be good because it has three ingredients that create pure awesomeness: bacon + three cheeses + pasta = amazing!
I decided not to make this in a skillet because I don’t have one large enough, and I poured it all in my trusty 13×9 inch baking dish instead.

Verdict: Wow! This was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. Even my picky daughter ate two servings and was more than happy to eat leftovers in her lunch 😉 The blend of cheeses, especially the nutty Gruyère works so well along with the smoky and salty bacon. I made a few changes and I have added those modifications to the recipe below – nothing major though. Thanks for reading, enjoy! 🙂

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Bacon Mac and Cheese – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials via Cooking Channel TV

  • 1 pound dry pasta (recommended: elbow macaroni, shells, penne, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup, plus 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked – reserve about 3 TBSP of bacon fat (*I skipped this step*)

For the Bechamel Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups warm milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 freshly ground pepper, or to taste

Directions –

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until nearing al dente, but not fully cooked; drain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, avoid browning, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring the sauce to a boil. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste. Reduce the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Reduce heat to low and stir the dry mustard and cayenne pepper into the bechamel sauce. Gradually add the Cheddar, Gruyere, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until all of the cheese has melted. Add an additional milk. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.

Add the cooked pasta to the bechamel and stir to coat evenly with the sauce. Pour the pasta in to a buttered 13×9  baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and reserved bacon fat. Coat the bread crumbs and chopped parsley with bacon fat and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the macaroni; and then top with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with crumbled cooked bacon. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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