Oh yes. Yes I did. I know what you’re thinking…
BACON aaaannnd Mac & Cheeeese?! Whaaaat?! Oh my gosh, Katherine, you’re such a little rebel!!!!
No? Not what you’re thinking? Fine. But I’ve gotta show you how fun and easy it was to make. It was a dream to eat and relatively simple to throw together.
Sean has been working ’round the clock on a work project lately, so I decided to make this for him/us earlier this week. I don’t cook dinner like…every night, but I try to as often as I can. When I used to come home exhausted from my last job’s awful commute, he would often cook for me and it made me so happy. So now that I work from home (anyone else work from home!? Isn’t it AMAZING!?) I’ve tried to “spice” up my cooking skills (proud pun moment # 438839058430). The look on his face when he comes home exhausted and sees a home-cooked meal waiting is just priceless.
He loves bacon. I was in the mood to make home-made mac & cheese. Put ’em together and what’dya yet?! Wooohooo! Bacon Mac & Cheese. I researched a few recipes and liked this one the most: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/mac-n-cheese-with-bacon-and-cheese-recipe/index.html (thanks Food Network!). I threw in a little of this and that to change it around a bit though. Here’s what you’ll need to make what I made:
*Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
- 1 box (which is usually 1 pound) – Elbow Macaroni
- Salt (just have plenty handy)
- 4 cups – Milk
- 3 or 4 sprigs – Thyme
- 2 Tbsp – Garlic Powder
- 1 Tbsp – Paprika
- 3 Tbsp – Butter
- 3 Tbsp – Flour
- 5 1/2 cups – Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Got ’em? Let’s do this.
Start by doing something very important. SHRED THE CHEESE YOURSELF!!!!! DOOO IIIIITT!!! I’m hoping I scared you a little just now so that you do it. It’s an annoying but necessary step! I’m a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman (hey Ree!!!!! you’re probably not reading this…but ya never know…) and she really hits home how important it is to shred the cheese yourself. Sounds silly? It makes a difference. She says she doesn’t buy store-bought pre-shredded cheese and that “…It’s against my religion.” Love her. I live by that now! So shred your own cheese. We clear?! Great. Moving on.
Boil a pot of hot water (salted) to cook the macaroni. Watch it…and keep tasting. Those little guys will cook fast and you’re gonna want to drain them once they’re al-dente. Once they’re there – set the macaroni aside.
Once your ingredients are all set up, start with the milk and butter. In a large skillet, warm the milk on medium to medium-high heat while whisking so that you don’t burn a layer of milk at the base. Add the thyme sprigs to the milk and let it make a little melody of the milk. Just give it some “thyme” … I’m sorry (not sorry) but did you really expect me to not have fun with that one?!
Meanwhile, in a SEPARATE skillet, gently melt the butter on medium heat, then add in the paprika, garlic, and flour but do it very graaaaadually while whisking. Add the mixtures from both skillets together into one (thyme + milk in with the buttery paprika garlic flour mixture. Nice and slow. No one likes ugly redish brown clumps in their harmonious thyme scented milk. No one.
Remove the thyme sprigs. Thyme’s up! Haaahahahaaa!
Add in the cheese slowly while whisking…
Keep whisking! You’re doin’ great! If you get stressed out just have a glass of wine 😉
Pour the macaroni into a casserole dish and follow that up with your cheesy harmonious skillet sensation. Or in other words, add the cheesy blend to the mac. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Into the oven it goes for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how crispy you may want the top to get.
While the mac & cheese is cooking in the oven, wipe down the skillet and get ready to cook the BACON! Make sure to cook the bacon so that it’s really crisp. Once it’s ready, remove and let it cool and dry over paper towels. Chop up the bacon into small pieces and then add that to the top of the mac & cheese once it’s out of the oven.
YAY! Enjoy with some oven-roasted veggies! I’ll post some of my veggie side favorites soon. For now, go enjoy your Saturday night. As for me? I’m going to bed. I have a big day tomorrow. I’m running the Annapolis 10 Mile race with my friend Carrianne! Woooohooo!