Macaroni and cheese is serious business. Maybe it's not "stab someone in the stomach" serious, but it's still a really big deal. Though it seems relatively simple to make, the process is filled with many different decisions and possible pitfalls.
- What type of cheese will you use?
For a traditional macaroni and cheese, your choice is obvious here. Cheddar wins every single time. Try using something a little better than the store brand cheese. No need to spend a million dollars. Try Dubliner Cheddar. It's great, and you can pick it up relatively inexpensively at Fresh and Easy.
- What other ingredients could you use to enhance the cheese flavor?
This one is really a matter of preference. Bacon is a natural choice. Onion doesn't go too shabbily with it either. You could even add crushed tomato and basil. Just think about the overall combination of flavors. If it doesn't sound like it would be very good, it probably won't be.
- Will this be of the baked variety that has a crumb crust?
There are two schools of thought here. Macaroni and cheese is either baked in a flat dish with breadcrumbs on top or in a casserole without the bread crumbs. This recipe is totally different from either method.
- How can you avoid using velveeta cheese at all costs? (This one is so important)
Velveeta is neither tasty, nor visually appealing. Frankly, it's downright un-natural. With this recipe you will not have to use velveeta as a crutch to make sure your dish stays creamy and delicious.
Of the pitfalls discussed, this recipe addresses every single one. Without further adieu, here's the recipe:
Bacon macaroni and cheese
1 - 16 oz box of elbow macaroni (Change it up with different shapes like rotini or bowties if you're feeling whimsical)
4 - 5 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped into "bits" (try to avoid the hickory smoked or maple kind)
10 oz cheddar, shredded
1 shallot, finely diced
6 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Place one large stock pot on the stove, 3/4 filled with water. Turn the heat up to high.
- Place bacon and shallot in a frying pan with olive oil. Cook over medium high heat until browned. Set aside.
- In a medium sauce pan, place butter and flour over medium heat.
- As butter melts, stir in the flour. Cook for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add heavy cream to the roux (butter and flour mixture), continue to stir.
- Once cream is boiling, the mixture should be thicker than before.
- Now add the cheese in small batches and stir until combined and melty.
- Turn cheese down to low heat and stir occasionally.
- By this time the water should be boiling. Salt it generously. The water should be salty like the ocean.
- Boil pasta until done. (Follow the instructions on the box or bag)
- Drain pasta thoroughly and place it back in the pan.
- Stir the cheese mixture into the pasta. (notice the creamy texture and lack of horrible neon yellow coloring)
- Stir in the bacon and shallot mixture.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.