Bacon Mac & Cheese

The biggest game of the football season is just a few days away, so my friend over at James Frank Club asked me to develop a recipe that can be served while watching the game. I automatically thought of mac & cheese – it goes great with football and can easily serve a large crowd.

Now there are so many different mac recipes out there, how do you make it even better? You add thick cut bacon. And how do you make THAT even better? You pour some of the bacon fat into your cheese sauce. I mean it is the biggest game of the year, so go big or go home, amiright?!

As you can imagine, this mac & cheese is rich, delicious and super cheesy as it’s made with three different cheeses. You definitely don’t have to worry about a dry mac here. I do recommend a large elbow or tuped-shaped pasta with ridges such as cavatappi, the classic elbow, or pipette rigate to capture all the cheesy goodness.

So on Sunday if you’re entertaining a group of hungry football fans – MAKE THIS. They won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Bacon Mac & Cheese
 
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • ½ pound thick cut bacon, cubed and fat trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat (leftover in the pan after browning the bacon)
  • 1 pound pasta (preferably an elbow/tube shape)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • ½ tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 pound shredded sharp Cheddar
  • ⅓ pound shredded Gruyere
  • ⅓ pound grated Romano
  • Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Cook chunks of bacon in a medium saute pan until brown and crisp
  2. Using a slotted spoon, place cooked bacon and a paper towel lined plate and set aside, saving 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat
  3. Add pasta to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until al dente (this is important as the pasta will cook more in the cheese sauce) and rinse with cold water to temporarily stop the cooking process. Set aside
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate large pot, melt the butter
  5. Sprinkle flour over butter, whisk together for 2-3 minutes until a light paste forms
  6. Add milk and whisk until all incorporated
  7. Cook the sauce on medium heat until thick, whisking occasionally
  8. Add heavy cream, the cheeses, bacon fat, salt and pepper
  9. Cook until all of the cheese has melted, whisking occasionally
  10. Add pasta to the cheese sauce and mix until all pasta is coated
  11. Add pasta to a 9" x 13" baking pan and sprinkle with the bread crumbs (just a light coating over the top)
  12. Place in the oven under the broiler for 5-8 minutes until the top is golden brown and cheese in bubbly
  13. Garnish with parsley and serve
  14. Make Ahead Plan B
  15. Follow steps 1-11, but do not add the bread crumbs just yet
  16. Cover with foil and refrigerate or transfer to your party location
  17. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  18. Uncover, top with bread crumbs and bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown, center is hot, and cheese is bubbly
  19. Garnish with parsley and serve

 

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