White Cheddar & Bacon Mac & Cheese
  • 1 lb large elbow macaroni
  • Kosher salt
  • 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
  2. 1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook til al dente (about 8-9 minutes). Drain.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  4. 2. In a small saucepan, heat the half and half with the sprigs of thyme and the smashed garlic cloves.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot & bubbly and the top is golden brown.
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.