White Cheddar & Bacon Mac & Cheese
1 lb large elbow macaroni
1 qt half and half
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 or 4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 lb thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
Fresh thyme leaves, about 1-2 sprigs’ worth
2 T unsalted butter
2-3 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 lb white cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup Italian style panko breadcrumbs
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook til al dente (about 8-9 minutes). Drain.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the half and half with the sprigs of thyme and the smashed garlic cloves.
In a large, deep skillet cook the bacon til crispy. Drain off the excess fat and add the chopped onion and thyme leaves (if you really love garlic, chop up a couple cloves and add them here too!) and cook until the onion is translucent. Remove the bacon-onion mixture to a bowl and set aside.
Add the butter to the pan and let it melt, then whisk in the flour to make a roux. Strain the solids out of the half and half and add it to the pan, whisking til smooth. Add all but a couple handfuls of the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the macaroni, sauce, and bacon-onion mixture. Add the parsley, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a large baking dish. Toss the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and scatter on top.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot & bubbly and the top is golden brown.
Pairs Well With
This is heavily adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe. Actually, I’ve never tried the original recipe as written- I made several changes the first time I tried it, and more the next time- you know how it goes!
Anyway, this is what I ended up with. It’s definitely not diet-friendly, but everyone sure seems to love it.
Ha ha, with 1 and a half pounds of cheese I'll really know what's the cheesiest! LOL!