Bacon Loves Mac and Cheese

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Bacon Bible

The Bacon Bible

By Peter Sherman and Stephanie Banyas

Published 2019

  • About

I couldn’t imagine opening a bar without mac and cheese on the menu, and I couldn’t imagine making a mac and cheese without bacon. This recipe gets a triple dose of bacon, starting with the sauce and ending with the bread crumbs, proving yet again that too much of something (umm, bacon, that is) is never enough.

Ingredients

For the Bacon Lardons

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound (455 g) slab bacon, cut into lardons

For the Bread Crumbs

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) rendered bacon fat, reserved from the lardons
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (80 g) panko bread crumbs

For the Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 quart (960 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat, reserved from the lardons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (225 g) shredded American cheese
  • 2 cups (225 g) shredded smoked gouda
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound (455 g) dried elbow macaroni, cooked in salted water until al dente and drained
  • ¼ cup (11 g) finely chopped fresh chives

Method

Make the bacon lardons: In a large sauté pan over medium heat, combine the oil and bacon and cook, turning a few times, until the bacon is golden brown and crispy and the fat has rendered, about 8 minutes.

Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Pour ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) of the fat into a small bowl and set aside for making the bread crumbs. Save the rest for another use.

Make the bread crumbs: Heat the reserved bacon fat and the butter in a small sauté pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the panko and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Make the macaroni and cheese: Preheat the oven to 375°F (193°C). Butter a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33-cm) baking dish or a 12-inch (30.5-cm) cast-iron pan.

In a large pot, bring the milk to a simmer over low heat.

Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons bacon fat and the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add the warm milk, whisking until smooth. Lower the heat and cook the béchamel sauce until thickened and the flour taste has cooked out, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, add both cheeses, and whisk until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, if needed, and a good dose of black pepper.

In a large bowl, stir the cheese sauce into the cooked pasta, fold in the bacon, and transfer to the prepared baking dish or pan. Bake until bubbly and lightly golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and chives. Serve immediately.