Bacon Mac and Cheese

Back in March I picked up an issue of the Food Network Magazine. I always love this magazine, but I might have been drawn to this particular issue with a bit more excitement due to these words across the front cover: “The Cheese Issue.” Cheese = a pathway to my heart. Inside the magazine they had a little pull-out booklet called “50 Twists on Mac and Cheese.” There’s everything from Lobster Mac and Cheese to Chili-Chip Mac and Cheese to every other possible combination. The recipe for bacon mac and cheese was a must to make as my hubby is a bacon lover.

You start with the recipe for Classic Baked Mac and Cheese and then right before baking you add 8 slices crumbled cooked bacon. Easy and oh.my.gracious. it’s good.

Classic Baked Mac and Cheese (Food Network Kitchens)

Serves: 4 to 6

Kosher salt

8 ounces fusilli or other short pasta

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk, heated

1 bay leaf

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

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 3. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, 2 minutes, then whisk in the milk. Add the bay leaf, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thick, 8 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in 2 cups cheddar and the gruyere.

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4. Stir in the pasta and the reserved cooking water to make a loose sauce.

5. Butter a 2-quart baking dish; add the pasta mixture and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake 15 minutes.

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This is comfort food.

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