It goes without saying that this should be consumed in moderation, right? Wait until you have some friends over before you attempt to whip this one up.
This recipe is inspired by the rich, creamy bacon macaroni and cheese that I experienced at Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass. last month. I knew I wasn't going to drive eight hours to experience this mac and cheese again (well, at least not anytime soon), so I figured I'd attempt to make my own version at home. Mine is different, but I think it's just as good.
I ran into a few challenges in creating this recipe. First, I think Lord Hobo used Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni in their recipe. I also know that my local grocery store sells this pasta. Of course it went on sale last week and was all sold out. Great. So my patient husband drove me to three other grocery stores until we found this pasta. I'm a perfectionist. I can't help it. I'm sure medium shells will do if you can't find Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni. When I found the right pasta, I bought three boxes. Just in case.
Next challenge was finding applewood smoked bacon. My husband thought it would be hard to find. Believe it or not, Oscar Mayer makes a version and not only did my grocery store had it, I got it for $1.99 with a rain check (normal retail is $5.99/pound). And yes, I did purchase 6 pounds of bacon and put the rest in the freezer. I love Oscar Mayer bacon. I don't eat it every day, but if I'm going to eat fatty meat, it may as well be the best.
For the recipe, I reflected on my Cheesy Baked Shells with Broccoli. The method is similar, but the broccoli is replaced by bacon and I made a few minor additions.
Bacon Mac and Cheese
a Keeley original
1 pound Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni pasta (or any other sturdy, small pasta)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk I used1%
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar
1 cup grated fresh (soft) Asiago or cheese of your choice I added a little Parmesan, too
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
fresh ground pepper
5 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces and cooked until crisp (I used Oscar Mayer Applewood Smoked bacon)