In 4.5 years of this blog's existence, I have posted exactly two mac and cheese recipes.
That, my friends, is a travesty.
In order to attempt to right this massive underrepresentation of one of the greatest comfort foods of all time... I present to you:
Gouda Bacon Mac and Cheese.
Really, the title should be: "Gouda Cheddar Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese with Bacon, Mushrooms and Greens"... but that seemed like a mouthful.
Better to stuff those mouths with delicious bites of mac and cheese.
Let's talk ingredients for a minute.
Cheese: Obviously the most important ingredient in mac and cheese. I find smoked gouda to be too strong in taste, so I went with this mild Parrano gouda. It's a cross between a traditional creamy gouda and fine-aged nutty Parmesan, which makes it perfect for this recipe. I also had some white cheddar in the fridge, so I used some of that. And for a little tang and extra creaminess, I also added some goat cheese (cream cheese would also work if you're looking to save a little money or if you already have some on hand).
Bacon: Also a star ingredient here. I'm using it as an add-in, and also as my fat for making the sauce. I've recently fallen in love with the products from Vermont Smoke and Cure. Their meat sticks get me through my 3 hour shows in the mornings, and I was pumped to discover they also make things like smoked ham and bacon.
Pasta: I still had some cavatappi in the cupboard leftover from my lobster macaroni and cheese, so I used that. (Ignore the label on my container... I mis-wrote when I labeled). I love it for mac and cheese because it's a fun shape and great for holding all the cheesy goodness. But you could use any pasta that has good nooks for holding the sauce such as traditional elbows, penne, or other hollow shaped noodle.
Add-ins: Just because I can't help myself, I also decided to add some sautéed shiitake mushrooms for texture and some upland cress for color. (Full disclosure: I had no idea upland cress existed until I saw it at the store... it has a mild peppery taste, similar to watercress).
First of all... this bacon is what dreams are made of. Maple brined *and* maple smoked? No nitrates? It's basically health food. I call for 6 pieces in this recipe, but you may want to consider making 7 or 8. Because you KNOW you're going to continue to grab little pieces to munch on while you make the rest of the recipe.
The other lovely little secret to this recipe is that we are going to repurpose all of that lovely bacon grease back into the recipe for the mushrooms, cheese sauce and bread crumbs. Because it would be a crying shame to waste it... and it gives an extra sinfully smoky taste to every creamy bite.
To make the sauce, add two tablespoons of bacon fat back into the pan used to cook the bacon and mushrooms. Add flour and whisk to combine. Let cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. (This will cook out the "floury" taste). Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Continue cooking, stirring often, until sauce is simmering and thickened, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan (mmm more bacon). Let sauce bubble gently until thick, about 5-10 minutes longer, stirring often so it doesn't scorch on the bottom.
Remove from heat and stir in all of that beautiful cheese. Once cheeses are melted, stir in dry mustard and season sauce with salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in cooked pasta, bacon bits, mushrooms and upland cress leaves.
Spoon into either a 2-quart baking dish or individual oven-safe dishes such as French onion soup bowls or shuffle dishes (pictured above). Top with a mixture of bread crumbs, Romano and bacon grease and bake for about 25 minutes until bubbling throughout and lightly browned on the top.
Gouda Bacon Mac and Cheese
Cook Time: 1 hour
Keywords: bake saute entree side goat cheese cheese macaroni gouda American
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 6 slices uncured bacon
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces freshly shredded gouda cheese (about 2 cups)
- 3 ounces freshly shredded white cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces creamy goat cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- Salt & black pepper to taste
- 8 ounces dry cavatappi pasta or pasta of your choice (choose one with lots of nooks for holding sauce)
- 1 bunch Upland Cress
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large saute pan, cook bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels, reserve bacon fat. (You should have about 1/4 cup. If not, you will need to substitute with butter). Crumble/chop bacon.
- In small saucepan, heat milk to just below a simmer.
- Return 1 tablespoon of bacon fat to the pan used to cook the bacon, and saute mushrooms until soft. Remove and set aside.
- Add two more tablespoons of bacon fat to the pan. Add flour and whisk to combine. Let cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Continue cooking, stirring often, until sauce is simmering and thickened, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let sauce bubble gently until thick, about 5-10 minutes longer, stirring often so it doesn't scorch on the bottom.
- Remove from heat and stir in gouda, cheddar and goat cheese. Once cheeses are melted, stir in dry mustard season sauce with salt and pepper as needed.
- Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente. Drain and return to pot. Add cheese sauce and stir. Fold in upland cress leaves and cooked mushrooms.
- Melt remaining tablespoon bacon grease (if it's solidified) and stir in panko bread crumbs and grated Romano cheese.
- Transfer pasta mixture to 2-quart baking dish or individual serving dishes such as ramekins, French onion soup bowls, or souffle pans. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 25 minutes or until browned on top and bubbling throughout. (You may run under the broiler for a few minutes to further brown the top, if desired).
Powered by Recipage