Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bacon Mac&Cheese

So the flu bug rolled through this house like the Tasmanian Devil! It took a week-and-a-half for it vacate the premises and let me tell you, it is not welcome to return. My oldest two children have been at my husband's grandmother's (Gigi) house since Wednesday and today they return. At first I felt a little guilty at how excited I was that they were gone but then I remembered that it is just important for me to have some time to myself as it is for them to have time to themselves. I did enjoy having a little more ease to go out and do things (as I'm sure my youngest enjoyed all the extra attention) but I miss my babes a lot.

So, onto the glorious-ness. Ooey-gooey-yummy-in-my-tummy....Bacon Mac & Cheese.

First, we have the line up: Bacon, butter, flour, whole milk, white cheddar cheese, pepperjack cheese, cream cheese, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, mustard powder and pasta.

Alright. This is one of my fav-or-ite kitchen tools. You peel up some garlic, trim it up, pop it in this little gizmo and roll away. Open 'er up and, voila! Minced garlic!!

So, for whatever reason I have come to call chopped up crispy bits of bacon, chitlins. I looked it up before typing out some ridiculous "definition" as to what they are and 1. boy am I glad! and 2. These are NOT chitlins!!

Apparently, chitlins are the intestine of the pig whereas these are just some glorious, crispy bacon bits, yumm!!

Spoon out the bacon to drain ((above)). The pour out the drippings reserving about 5 tablespoons in the pan. ((If you don't get enough drippings make up the difference with butter.))

Toss in the garlic and onion, when those are nice and aromatic and starting to brown add in the flour. ((sorry no picture of that step; it goes fast!)) You should cook the flour until it looses it's raw smell and no longer. Probably about 3-5 minutes. 

Slowly whisk in the milk. ((warm milk is easier than cold but plenty of times I've had to use cold due to improperly planned mise-en-place)) Let this cream sauce thicken some while you prepare the crispy, crusty, delicious crumb topping.

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, paprika, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix it all together and then stir in some melted butter.

Once your sauce has thickened slightly, it is time to add the cheeeeese!! It works best if you cube up the cream cheese so that it melts in quickly and easily for a smooth and creamy finish! If you're concerned about the pepperjack making things too spicy you can always sub in Monterey Jack cheese.

Final work going into the oven...

Annnnnnnddd, once again I manage to burn the topping. I. Am. Excellent at burning the bread-crumb-topping. Unfortunately. However, do no let these results deter you, it was still an excellent dish. My kids thought it was a little spicy but nothing that a little ketchup couldn't fix.

Bacon Mac & Cheese

1/2#-1# Bacon ( I did 1/2 and it could have used some more)
Butter, as needed
1/2 C Flour
4 C Whole Milk
1/4 tsp Mustard Powder
A pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper, to taste
3 C White Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 C Pepperjack Cheese, grated
4 oz Cream Cheese, cubed
4 cloves of Garlic
1/2 small onion, diced
1# pasta

  • Cook pasta to 1-2 minutes less than what the package directions say.
  • Chop raw bacon up into small pieces and crisp up in a pan with deep sides; set aside.
  • Measure out 5 tbsp of bacon grease adding butter if needed.
  • Saute onion and garlic in hot grease; add in flour and cook until fragrant but not changing colors.
  • Slowly whisk in milk. If you do too much/too fast you can end up with a lumpy sauce.
  • Season sauce with nutmeg, mustard powder, and s/p. 
  • Let sauce simmer and thicken slightly, then add in the cheeses.
  • Whisk until the sauce is smooth and thick-- the oozy-gooey part!!
  • Prepare a 9X13 dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350*
  • EIther combine the sauce and noodles and then dump into the prepared pan or layer it in the dish. Top with the breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and brown. Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to speed up cooking time by turning up the temperature. You will get burnt breadcrumbs. And nobody wants burnt breadcrumbs!!

Mmmm, I just want to make this again now!! I started a tradition a few years back for the Super Bowl. Whatever teams are in the game, you base your menu around what they are known for. This year it is the San-Fran-49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. I will be posting my menu this friday, so stay tuned!!

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