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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bacon Mac-n-Cheese

The conversation started innocently enough at the gym...talking about an overly cheesy slow-cooker mac-n-cheese recipe...and I got to thinking I was in the mood for a good homemade bowl of it. Then I jumped onto Facebook yesterday and there on a friend's wall was a post for a bacon mac-n-cheese recipe. I figured if I got it twice in the matter of hours, then it was divine intervention - the gods were telling me that I had to make a batch. And with the exact amount of bacon the recipe calls for in the refrigerator? Well, that just was yet another reason to go for it.

Now, it calls for heavy cream, which I didn't have, so I made my own little roux and hoped for the best. It turned out just as well! Again, not quite the healthiest dish, but damn delicious!

Bacon Mac-n-Cheese
1 tsp salt + more for pot of water
1 lb rotini noodles
3/4 lb bacon
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I'm out of the regular stuff?!)
2 cups shredded cheese (I did half mozzarella and half sharp cheddar)
1/4 tsp pepper

  1. Bring water to a boil. Salt it generously (it should taste like the sea). Stir in the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain (but don’t rinse, or you’ll rinse away starches that will help thicken the sauce) and return to the empty pot.
  2. Meanwhile, place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for several minutes. When hot, add the bacon and sauté until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Pour off the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the milk, butter and flour and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer until the cream is reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the Cheddar cheese and bacon. Stir well and cook over medium-high heat, stirring now and then, until the cheese has melted and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.
  5. Stir the sauce into the cooked and drained pasta in the pot. Place over medium heat and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken the sauce and allow the pasta to absorb the flavors, stirring now and then.
  6. Garnish with chives (if you'd like) and try not to eat the entire thing ;-)

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