Last night it was just the girls and me and so I decided to make kid-friendly macaroni and cheese. This recipe doesn’t stray from the basics: a creamy rue, shredded cheese and a crunchy bread topping.
The ingredient that gives this recipe kick is bacon. I truly believe that if you are going to eat something fattening, or just plain unhealthy, it is only the worth the calories if it is really delicious.
I must admit I am not much of a fan of the bacon craze that has hit the nation. I think it’s basically a cop out way to make flavorful food without much effort. But I really liked this recipe. It is from the cookbook, One Pot of the Day, by Kate McMillan.
Just make sure that you use the best cheddar cheese you can afford. I used something called “Londoner Cheese” which happened to be on sale. The sharpness of the cheese contrasted with the smoky flavor of the bacon.
Also, resist the temptation to cook more than the required 1/2 pound of pasta. It seems like a measly amount but the pasta expands in the oven and absorbs all of the cheese sauce. Too much pasta will make this recipe dry and starchy.
Macaroni and Cheese
4 T unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 C fresh bread crumbs
4 slices of thick sliced bacon, cut crosswise in 2 inch strips
1/4 C flour
3 C whole milk, heated
3/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and place on high heat. In a medium size sauce pan, over medium heat, fry the bacon in batches until cooked but not crisp. Remove the bacon and pour out left over grease.
In the same sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted add the flour and whisk until a paste forms. Add the hot milk slowly, whisking continuously until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Add 2/3 of the cheese and stir until melted.
Meanwhile, when the water begins to boil, add the macaroni and cook until el dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and add to the cheese sauce, stirring to coat.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and toss with bread crumbs. Lightly butter a shallow 2 quart baking dish and add the macaroni and cheese mixture. Top with remaining shredded cheese and then bread crumb mixture. Bake 30 minutes until golden brown and sauce is bubbling.