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Not Your Childhood Mac n’ Cheese

Not Your Childhood Mac n’ Cheese

First time I made this was for the UFC BBQ we held a few weeks ago. Apparently it was described as “crack” and people stuffed themselves full with it (amongst all the other food we made). Chris doesn’t like macaroni and cheese and yet he asked me blog about it so I wouldn’t forget what I put in it. He felt it would be the perfect dish for me to write about. I’ve also promised my friends that this is what I’ll bring to all our future potlucks.

 

This isn’t the macaroni and cheese we ate as children. This isn’t the soupy, thin sauce mac and cheese and comes out of a little blue box. This is some hearty, clog your arteries, bacon-ated mac and cheese. Definitely NOT for everyday consumption. I also will not be liable for any weight gain that may occur to anyone who tries this recipe.

 

WARNING: this recipe makes a large portion. LARGE. This will feed about 10 people because you really can’t eat too much of it…. even if you want to.

Jalapeño Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce dried ridged jumbo elbow (I like ridged jumbo because the sauce finds its way inside the pasta and it also has a bigger/better bite)
  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound bacon, diced into small pieces (low sodium preferred)
  • 3 stalks fresh thyme
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4-5 jalapeños, diced
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F
  2. In a large pot, boil water with some salt to cook pasta. Follow instructions on pasta packaging to cook until el dente. Strain and leave side.
  3. In a large pan, cook bacon until slightly brown. Then add onion and jalapeños and sauté in the bacon fat over medium high. The bacon should turn a golden brown and onions will become translucent.
  4. While the bacon/onion/jalapeño mixture is cooking, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pan. Add the flour and whisk over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  5. When the flour is cooked through, add the milk and thyme. Continue to whisk over medium heat until sauce thickens – roughly 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add salt, pepper, paprika, and ground mustard to flavor. Continue whisking.
  7. Remove thyme stalks from the sauce.
  8. Add bacon/onion/jalapeño mixture into the saucepan and mix well. (Some of the bacon fat will get into the mixture, it’s ok! That makes it extra yummy.)
  9. Add 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and whisk until well incorporated. Allow cheese sauce to come to a steady boil.
  10. Place pasta into a pan or dutch oven. Pour sauce over the pasta and mix well.
  11. In a small pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add Panko and brown until breadcrumbs are golden brown.
  12. Top the pasta with remaining cheese and then spoon the Panko over on top.
  13. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  14. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes.