Bacon Mac & Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese, especially the mass produced version that you often find in buffets. So I’m always on the lookout for a good mac and cheese recipe.  A little while ago, I forget where, the idea of Bacon Mac & Cheese started bouncing around in the house and I knew I had to make it.

I had originally planned to use a recipe I found over at Babble.com, but their recipe called for Progresso™ Recipe Starters™ Creamy Three Cheese cooking sauce and I have no clue where to find it. Granted, I didn’t look too hard, but my local grocery chain store didn’t have it and I would rather not use something that can be hard to find. So I started looking again and saw the recipe for Panera’s Mac & Cheese and knew I could work with that.

As usually when it comes to cheese, I didn’t really follow the directions but used them more like guidelines. I like cheese and I like it a little thicker than the blue box variety. So I ended up using more cheese that I should have (about 6 cups worth). Since I’ve adjusted the recipe below from what we had for dinner, I’m going to assume that the cheese won’t be as thick in the picture, but it should still be a pretty good consistency. Also, for the bacon, it needs to be crispy. When I made it earlier, it baked right in the grease so it came out chewy and soft. While this worked for the recipe, it didn’t dice up well. I ended up with bigger chunks and bites without bacon. So Jesse and I are thinking that by making it crispier (and maybe baking it on racks so the grease drips off), we’ll be able to dice it into smaller pieces and it’ll spread out more among the pasta.

There is one more thing I would recommend when making this. If you have bacon lovers in the house, make sure you hire an armed guard. I made the bacon an hour before I did the rest and they kept coming into the kitchen, wanting to eat the bacon. I had to turn them away a couple of times, so while I say use a whole package of bacon, I did keep out four slices so they would stop asking for some. *grin*

Overall the boys loved this. Even Simon, who has been really picky of late, had his plate cleaned before I even had a chance to try it. Jesse wasn’t far behind him either. Ian said it was good as well, but he doesn’t recommend it if your throat is bothering you (he currently has a cough that is making his raw). I enjoyed it as well, but yeah, 6 cups of cheese was a bit much. I’m also thinking that next time I’ll be adding some broccoli and chicken to the mixture (or maybe substituting it for the bacon), to make it a little different. I’m thinking there’s a bunch of possibilities for this.

Bacon Mac & CheeseIngredients:
1 (16-oz.) package penne pasta
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 cups shredded Italian Five-Cheese
1 cup (8 oz.) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 pkg extra thick bacon, cooked and diced well
Paprika (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place bacon on tin-foil lined baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes. Once done, immediately remove bacon from the grease and pat dry. Be sure to leave the oven on for the pasta, if baking.
  3. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and pour into a 9×13 pan.
  4. Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Whisk in flour and milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and is bubbly. Remove from heat.
  5. Add cheeses, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.  Add bacon and mix well.
  6. Pour sauce over pasta and stir.  If desired, sprinkle more cheese (not cheddar), over pasta. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted/heated. Serve immediately.

October 20, 2012 · jackie · 12 Comments
Posted in: Main Dishes, Pasta

12 Responses

  1. RayS - April 7, 2013

    If you want crisp bacon, nuke it on paper towels. I nuke (850 watts) for about 2 1/2 minutes, move to new paper towels & nuke another 1 1/2 minutes. Times vary, depending on your wattage, the thickness of the bacon, how much bacon and even the brand, so you’ll have to experiment. The paper towels soak up the grease and leave it crispy. Making a lot, I sometimes do another round of paper towels. When changing them, swap inner strips to outside, since microwaves focus on the middle of the oven and the middle is more cooked than the outside strips. Good luck – and thanks for the recipe.

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