The Ultimate Comfort Food: Bacon Mac N’ Cheese
When talking comfort food, there is nothing like a great big bowl of mac n' cheese. But what if we brought it up a notch and added BACON?! Crazy? I think not. Because who can deny everything is better with bacon? “Not I,” says this food writer. That's why this recipe for Bacon Mac N' Cheese will be a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10!
I’ve talked about soup being comfort food for one's soul, but I will be honest, a good mac n' cheese recipe is a very close second. When the right mixture of gooey cheese, cream, butter, and macaroni come together, it is like heaven in a bowl. Because it is so rich and creamy, you don't have to have a lot to feel full and satisfied, but I would never deny anyone seconds.
This dish is so versatile — it probably has hundreds of different ways to prepare. It can be as basic as you like with just cheese or as fancy as you like by adding veggies or seafood or, in this case, bacon! Don't be shy. Add different flavors of cheeses, such as bleu, brie, or Gouda in addition to cheddar; add butternut squash, broccoli, or mushrooms; add buffalo chicken, lobster, crab, or bacon; top with crushed crackers, panko bread crumbs … or not.
Mac n' cheese is the perfect meal to customize to your liking and to experiment with a multitude of flavor combinations. If you find one that works, let me know. I would love to try it!
Bacon Mac N' Cheese
You will need:
- 5–6 slices of bacon, cut in pieces or 1/4 cup diced pancetta (Italian bacon)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried, minced garlic
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
- 1 box small-shell pasta
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 cups fontina cheese, grated
Instructions:Cook pasta according to package directions, less one minute, to al dente. Drain and set aside.
Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in large saucepan. Add bacon and cook over medium heat until brown and crisp. Remove from pan with slotted spoon onto paper towel to drain. Do not discard bacon fat from pan.
Add butter and onion to bacon fat and cook until soft and translucent — about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and stir. Add flour and stir until mixture turns a golden brown — about 3 minutes.
Slowly whisk in milk and mustard. Add salt to taste. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture thickens slightly (just heavier than cream) — about 8 minutes.
Whisk in cheeses to milk mixture. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add bacon and pasta and stir. Mixture should be really creamy. Serve immediately.
What's your favorite version of mac and cheese?