This recipe is very close to my heart. I am constantly making it for my friends and family and they love it.
The ingredients used to come together and make the most perfect homemade mac & cheese. It’s crispy on top, creamy on the inside, and with a surprisingly sweet note from the peas that perfectly balances the saltiness of the bacon and cheese.
1 lb. of pasta (your favorite short shape)
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
1 lb. (10 slices) bacon, chopped
1 cup sweet peas, cooked
½ cup sharp white cheddar
1 cup white cheddar
7 oz Kraft mild cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
½ cup seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Fill a large pot with water, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add a handful of salt and pasta and bring back up to a boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl, saving ½ cup of the pasta water.
While the pasta boils, cook the bacon at medium to medium-high heat, until crispy, reserve about two tablespoons of the fat.
Place a saucepan over medium heat and melt butter. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and mix to incorporate with a wooden spoon or spatula for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add milk in one splash at a time while whisking until it is fully incorporated. Mixture should be smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water and the reserved bacon fat (this will help to form the sauce) then whisk.
Remove from heat and stir in sharp cheddar and white cheddar, small handfuls at a time, until a smooth cheese sauce has formed. Then add the mild cheddar, and season generously with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce over macaroni and stir together. Stir in bacon and peas.
Pour mixture into a baking dish and top with more cheddar, parmesan and panko.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture is thick, creamy and lightly browned on top.
Remove from heat and allow to cool, about 10 minutes, before serving.
- My preferred pasta shape is Cavatappi, but feel free to use any short pasta shape such as macaroni, shells, rigatoni, fusilli, etc.
- When creating the Roux (flour/butter) make sure to do it slowly, if you see it turning a little darker than a beige it means that is has burned. Do it again, no rush!
- Don’t be afraid when adding salt to the pasta water. Make sure it is as salty as the sea!
- The more bacon the better, don’t waste the fat use it for the sauce.
- I have used other mild cheddar cheese, but I find that Kraft is perfect to bring the sauce together than any other brand.
- For the sharp white cheddar, I like to use Cabot or Cracker Barrel.
- For the white cheddar I usually use Borden.
- Always, cook bacon at medium or low heat to render the fat and it won’t burn.