Friday, November 22, 2013

Bacon Bread-Crumb Topped Mac n' Cheese

In honor of my first born's birthday being today I must post a recipe that reflects him. His recipe reflection is Mac n' Cheese. Unfortunately, my desire to make every dish a culinary masterpiece is not appreciated here because the only type of mac n' cheese he wishes to eat comes from a blue box. No, I take that back, once he did eat my gourmet version. Most likely because he was starving and would've eaten anything I put in front of him, but nonetheless! I shall push forward in my mac n' cheese masterpiece culinary experiments! 

This mac n' cheese version is quiet grown up! The cream sauce is infused with clove, cinnamon and bay leaf giving a subtle herby and sweet aroma to the cheese sauce. After you make a roux with the milk you add in some grated cheese and combine the noodles with the cheesy cream sauce. The noodles are topped with bacon chunks and crusty bread, then piled with sharp cheddar.
Chop up some bread. Use old bread. Old bread is crustier and happier. Happier because it used to be on the verge of being moldy and in the trash, but now it's happier because it's proud to be delicious. Proud delicious bread.
Grate up some sharp cheddar. Sharp...K? Get. Sharp. Cheddar. Don't mess around.
Very rich. Very naughty. Very much what you don't need to eat the week before Thanksgiving. But save the recipe for the middle of January when the sunlight hasn't shone for about 387 days and you crave carbs immediately upon waking at 5:59 am. 
Look what's in the middle. Bacon. With bread. I'm getting fatter thinking about this. 
And more cheese. 
Let's eat!

Bacon Bread-Crumb Topped Mac n' Cheese

Yield: 4 generous servings

2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups freshly grated sharp white cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
12 ounces elbow macaroni
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 pieces of bacon, cooked, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the milk and cream into a medium sized saucepan with the bay leaf, clove and cinnamon stick. Bring to a gentle boil, then remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes to steep. Strain into a large bowl or large liquid measuring cup and set aside. 

Wipe out saucepan and place over medium heat. Add butter to saucepan and melt. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk and cream mixture, stirring until smooth. Return to the heat and stir constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and add half the cheddar, half the Parmesan and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well and add into the cheese sauce and mix well. Pour into a well buttered medium-sized casserole dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, bacon and remaining cheeses. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Serve. 

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I'd love to hear all about your kitchen adventures! Xo, Becki