Smoky Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon Topping

Adapted from and Inspired by Bakeaholic Mama

Mac n Cheese with Bacon Topping from She Cooks, He Cleans

I recognize that I use every excuse in the book to eat anything dripping with cheese and/or bacon….but this time I really needed some comfort food.  If any of you have ever had a pinched nerve in your back, you know what I’m saying.  Ouch!  Although I was unable to bend over, Mr. He Cleans was there to get pots and pans out of the cabinet and to shuffle casseroles in and out of the oven – still while providing great music and keeping my (medicinal) wine glass filled.  He does it all!

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and started drooling.  To better describe it, I renamed it OMGBBQMACNCHEESEBACON.  I modified it for the ingredients I had on hand, and served it with barbeque chicken off the grill, instead of putting the chicken in the dish.  It was freaking awesome.  My back felt SO much better – although I’m not sure how much that was due to the wine and not the oooey-gooey cheesy macaroni and bacon.  Does it really matter?

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounce box gluten-free pasta (Jovial GF pasta is excellent)
  • 6 slices crispy, cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings, reserved from cooking bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter (preferably pastured)
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (or other gluten-free flour, to thicken)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • about 6 ounces gruyere, grated (2 cups, loosely packed)
  • about 4 ounces cheddar or smoked cheddar, grated (1 cup, loosely packed)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Spanish hot smoked paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in boiling water, for just less of the time recommended on pasta’s directions.  You want it to be slightly underdone, with a little firmness to the bite.  Set aside.

Lightly butter a casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the tablespoon of reserved bacon drippings.  Whisk in the flour until well-blended, and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in the half and half, breaking up any clumps.  Continue to cook at a simmer, stirring, until the mixture thickens up to a gravy consistency.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses until everything is melted and smooth.  (Do not heat to a boil once cheese is added – it may separate.)

Stir in the cooked pasta until well combined.  (Mine was a little thick – I added a bit more half and half here to help it mix together.)  Pour into the buttered casserole dish.  Top with the crumbled bacon.

Bake for 15 minutes, covered with a lid or foil.  Remove the cover, and bake for another 10-15 minutes until it is bubbly.  Remove from oven and let it sit a few minutes so you don’t hurt yourself with hot cheese in your mouth.  Enjoy!

Mac n Cheese with Bacon Topping from SheCooks, He Cleans
These are leftovers – the original casserole was covered with bacon!

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nightProud to serve She Cooks! Glad you’re feeling better! Today’s music will make anyone feel better. Roots singer/songwriter Tift Merritt has joined up with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein on Night, and it’s one of the most intriguing and beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. Finding common ground in the works of Billie Holiday, Bach and Brad Mehldau among others, the result is ethereal and emotional. Merritt’s voice and guitar coupled with Dinnerstein’s piano create a sound that is haunting and timeless. Fans of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and especially the late, great Nina Simone should give this a listen. An early contender for album of the year.

8 thoughts on “Smoky Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon Topping

  1. I haven’t had Macaroni and Cheese for a LONG time, but this definitely looks like it would be worth the splurge!

  2. This is seriously good stuff! The snow is coming down hard but we are warm inside and enjoying this pure comfort food! Thanks so much!

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