Monday, September 22, 2008

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

When I saw this recipe from Ina Garten I knew that I had to make it. I mean it has cheese, cheese and more cheese and bacon! I'm glad I decided to try it because it was so good! I only made a few changes from the original recipe. I used panko instead of the bread crumbs because that's what I had. The panko gave it a really nice crunchy texture that I'm not sure the bread crumbs would have given. I don't have a scale to measure the cheese by weight so I approximated it and decided extra is always better. I think next time I will add a little less blue cheese and maybe more cheddar and Gruyere. Also next time I will try putting the bacon on top of the pasta instead of mixing it in because it lost it's crispness and I like my bacon crispy! Overall it was quick and simple to put together.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa"

3 thick-sliced bacon
2 cups elbow macaroni or other small pasta
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons AP flour
4 ounces Gruyere, grated (I used a generous 1 cup)
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (I used a generous 1 cup)
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (I used a generous 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup panko

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cook bacon on the stove, or in the oven, or in the microwave until crispy. I made mine in the microwave. I put the 3 slices between paper towels on a plate and microwaved it for 2 minutes then I flipped it over and microwaved it for another 2 minutes. Then I flipped it again and microwaved it for an additional minute. This is how I usually cook my bacon and I find that it always gets crispy without the mess that you usually get when cooking bacon on the stove or the oven.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Once the pasta is done drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small sauce pan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and then add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon. While stirring or whisking, add the hot milk and cook for 2 minutes until thickened and smooth. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cheeses, salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual gratin dishes. (I used 5 small dishes and put them on a baking sheet.)

Top with panko and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on the top. (Mine only took about 30 minutes.)

Update: So I made the mac and cheese again and it turned out better. I put the bacon on top instead of mixing it in and I think that it I like the extra crunch that it adds. This time I made the bacon on the stove and it turned out much more crispy. So I will do it this way from now on. All I did was cut the bacon into small pieces and cooked it in a pan until it was brown and crispy. I also made more of the cheese sauce so that after it bakes it's still pretty moist. What can I say I like cheese! One suggestion from B was to add more bacon next time. He wants some mixed in a more on top. He loves bacon so this doesn't really surprise me. I like bacon too so I'm not really opposed to extra. Next time I will try it with his "suggestion."

1 comment:

Chris said...

That is the best looking mac and cheese I have ever seen! The thought of having that yummy crusty cheese and the salty goodness of bacon mixed together makes me want to make some right now! Can't wait to try out the recipe!