Mac and Cheese Built for Adults
Lately I have been thinking about how much my kids love macaroni and cheese. As there are so many types of food to choose from in their childhood, there seems to be one that will be in the top five of most kids favorite foods, and that is mac n’ cheese. In a box. I will admit it that I probably have an average of 3 boxes of mac n’ cheese in my pantry, as it is really easy to please a kid in under nine minutes, especially after a day of work. There does however come a time, where, as much as I love mac n’ cheese, I pretty much refuse the box version. Not that I am picky or anything, but there is something to be said about homemade mac n’ cheese.
Sure, I have made mac ‘n cheese in the past, and I make several versions depending on the occasion. There is obviously one thing in common, which we all know is cheese, however this go around I wanted to do something different, not only to see if the kids would love it, but more importantly, the adults, hence the name mac and cheese built for adults.
We recently celebrated my daughter’s four year old birthday party, and as I had a hodge podge of items, including a beer and cheddar cheese dip, it also included ribs of two types, and chicken. It needed that extra kick, which was the mac and cheese. Enough said, lets get started. This one is sure to please all of the adults in the party, and have I mentioned it has bacon on it?
- 1/2 cup of red onion
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 slices of bacon
- 2-3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 liter of heavy cream
- 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of pepper jack cheese, shredded
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 lb of penne pasta, or medium shells
- Panko bread crumbs, enough to cover the top
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- fresh parsley, chopped
Begin by cooking your pasta, as directed. Drain, and let cool. During that time, cook your bacon in the olive oil. I prefer my bacon cooked low and slow in a fry pan, on the stove. Cook until nice and crisp, remove from the pan, and let any remaining fat drain on a piece of paper towel. Let cool. Save about 2 tablespoon of the bacon fat, and add in the shallot, onion, and garlic, and cook on medium heat until tender, roughly 4 minutes. Now, add in your flour, and mix until everything is coated. Cook for a minute of so until a nice golden color. Next, add in your cream, and whish often, breaking down the mixture, on medium heat until it reduces and really thickens up. Add in your cheeses and salt and pepper, continuing to stir so the cheese does not burn on the bottom of the pan. Get a large bowl ready and add in your noodles, then cover with the cheese sauce. Mix until everything is combined and coated. Next, lightly grease a casserole dish and add in the mac and cheese. Finally combine your melted butter, panko bread crumbs, and crumbled bacon, mixing well before adding to the top of the mac and cheese.
Your first thought is ‘holy moly!’ You could seriously dig in at this point, but have just a few more minutes of patience as it will really pay off.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook the mac and cheese until you have a nice golden brown on the top, and the cheese is bubbling hot. Dig in. Feel guilty, because the cheese, bacon and panko topping is a serious pleasure and one that you deserve for working so hard, either at the office, or at the gym.