Monday, February 21, 2011

All Bacon All the Time

Janet here:

Clearly winter is getting to me. I am craving comfort food and have been on a baking and bacon binge — although so far not in the same moment, which is probably good. If, however, you see a post here about a bacon chocolate chip cookie some day soon, you will know I have officially gone off the deep end.

While I gave up eating red meat over 30 years ago, I remain a bacon freak and often suggest that my children order bacon when we're at a restaurant so I can snag a piece. It's a weakness I know, but there it is. Anyway, to appease my conscience, I made this dish with turkey bacon. You obviously can use the other kind and all will likely be well.

Mac and cheese is the consummate comfort food to me but for years was — sadly — off limits in our family meal cycle because Rachel got sick once after having this for dinner and basically even the mention of mac and cheese elicited a gag reflex on her part.

Almost the day she left the house, though, I brought it back. This particular version is made not just with grated cheddar but with blue cheese as well. And, then, because I clearly had not added enough calories yet, I added bacon ... lots of it. (I also made a chili with bacon the same week but more on that another time.) The reviews were raves all around. I dare you to feel differently.

Ridiculously Cheesy Mac and Cheese
serves 4 or fewer if you have teenage or older boys in the house

3/4 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
5-6 pieces of bacon, cooked and broken into bits
3-4 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk (or you could do half-and-half if you felt really decadent)
salt and pepper to taste
about 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Fill a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Remove from heat and drain out the water.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter. When it's melted, add the flour and stir to make a roux. Add the milk and stir so there are no floury blobs and until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cheddar. Stir until the cheddar is melted in. Add the blue cheese and stir until melted.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta in a casserole dish. Add the bacon pieces and stir it all together. Taste for salt and pepper needs (likely not much salt due to the bacon and the cheeses). Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until the top is brown and the whole delicious concoction is bubbling.

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