Y’all. Make this. Just skip work, class, whatever you have going on and…make this.
I’ve been going through a huge mac and cheese kick lately where all I crave is the real homemade kind with breadcrumbs and toasted cheese on top. The kind where creamy doesn’t even begin to describe the texture, and bacon? Well, let’s just be honest here…who wouldn’t love a little bacon with anything they eat?
What happened? Oh, I’ll tell you what happened: I pulled this little crock of mac and cheese out of the oven, tried to place it on a trivet, and proceeded to somehow knock it over and it went all over the counter. Not the floor or sink or other such things, but the freshly cleaned and highly sanitary counter. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever had the desire to say the ‘F’ word, but I almost let it drop as I hurled my oven mitts the whole 3 feet across the kitchen and screamed and told Nate to leave me alone.
And then I started sobbing like a child. It’s true. It felt very Julie and Julia, only that didn’t feel that great. And then I stood and cried and apologized a bajillion times to Nate, picked up the mac and cheese and started over again with the breadcrumb topping.
The good news? The mac and cheese is phenomenal and bacon has magical mind-erasing powers to where Nate totally forgot about the fact that I’m a big jerk and helped me eat this up anyway. Thank goodness…
- 1 lb short-cut pasta (I used shells, but penne would be great too)
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into half-moons and rinsed well
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) soft herbed cheese (I used Alouette, but Boursin would be great too)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp (or less) cayenne pepper
- dash of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to broil. Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente; drain and set aside. Meanwhile crisp up the bacon slices in a large skillet over medium low heat. When they’re crispy remove from heat, reserving 2 Tbsp of the drippings. Saute the leeks in the bacon drippings until they’re very translucent and extremely tender (i.e. “melted”), about 10-15 minutes. It takes a while, but it’s well worth the outcome! Sprinkle in the 2 Tbsp of flour and mix well with the leeks, cooking out the flour for about 1 minute. Stream in the milk while whisking to incorporate everything well. Stir in the spices and bring to a simmer over medium low heat until the mixture is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses. Pour the pasta into the sauce and toss to coat. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil, then sprinkle over the top of the pasta. Broil until golden, about 3-5 minutes. Chop the bacon and sprinkle over the top.
So now I’m wondering…that whole bacon thing? I wonder if it works on husbands when you’re going through birth. You know, like if I say something mean or get annoying…can I just feed him bacon afterwards and make it all better?
I’ll research that and get back to you 🙂