When S. said she was having homemade bacon macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving (!)–it’s a southern tradition–I thought ‘what a great step to move away from a favorite processed food’–boxed mac and cheese. Our middle son was a great maker of the boxed stuff when the cook (that would be me) was not home and since his Peace Corps service has had him absent from our home and in Ukraine for over two years, mac and cheese has mostly been absent from our table as well. An aside–one of the said son’s first requests to send to Ukraine was the powdered cheese sauce–something he dearly missed. Pasta he could find. Processed powdered cheese sauce–unheard of in Ukraine. Of course, now that we have tasted this recipe, macaroni and cheese is gracing our table once again.
Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
Prepare one pound of bacon according to directions. I like to prepare bacon in the oven. Drain and cool. Cut into small pieces.
Prepare one pound of macaroni while you are making the sauce–the better pastas are less than a pound–anywhere from 13-16 ounces. I like the new Ronzoni Smart Taste elbows. It’s processed, I know, but we are not making a health food–just a better comfort food. Drain pasta thoroughly.
Melt over medium heat
8 tablespoons butter–one stick
Whisk into melted butter
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cook, whisking all the time, until bubbly –several minutes.
Heat in your microwave until hot
5 1/2 cups whole milk or half whole/half lower fat. I would not use all low fat.
Now carefully add the milk to your bubbling flour/butter mixture.
Whisk and cook until the magic happens and you have a nice white sauce.
Take it off the heat and add
4-5 cups shredded cheese–a mixture of white sharp cheddar, Gruyere, Romano, goat–this is the fun part–whatever you have on hand, as long as it’s a good quality melting cheese–it should be wonderful.
Stir with a spatula until cheese is incorporated. Fold in pasta.
Sprinkle with bacon.
Serve immediately. You could bake it, but who can wait?