Homemade Mac & Cheese with Bacon and Peas

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.


Ingredients:

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


Directions:

  • 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.

Tips:

- 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.


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