My family likes to eat. A lot. One of the things we can never seem to get enough of is cheese. More specifically, we can’t get enough of melted cheese! At any one time, we probably have at least 5 types waiting to be devoured. This proved to be true yesterday when my dad talked about mac n’ cheese to my mom for a good hour. When they got home, my mom mentioned that maybe it would be a good idea to make him some for lunch. Since it was Father’s Day, I figured a lunchtime treat would be a great way to kick off a day. I kept the recipe simple, but to kick it up a notch I cooked it in bacon. Yes, IN bacon (the bacon fat is used instead of oil or butter). Wafts of bacon, garlic, and cheese floated throughout the house…it’s so delicious. But be warned – the smell will attract impatient family members ready to munch down on your mac n’ cheese!
In this recipe, a subtle hint of garlic hangs out with warm smokiness from bacon. A little bit of onion is added before mixing in lots of oozy goozy moozy cheese. Love it! The sauce is perfectly thick and incredibly comforting. Since it finishes cooking under the broiler, the top gets super crispy….and I mean, who doesn’t love a crispy gooey combo?! One of the secrets to making this recipe so darn good is a little bit of hot sauce. It doesn’t’ get spicy, the heat just livens up the flavors in a way that you won’t believe. My dad went back for serving after serving after serving….after serving. Oh yeah, he had a good Father’s Day lunch! ;)
12 oz penne pasta
4 strips of bacon
3 garlic cloves
½ onion (thinly sliced)
2 ½ tablespoons flour
2 ¾ cups milk
12 oz shredded cheddar cheese (save 1 oz for the top)
¾ teaspoon hot sauce
1/3 cup panko
Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente (around 10 minutes). Drain. Reserve.
While the pasta boils, cook the bacon in a large, deep, oven safe skillet (about 10 minutes, flipping occasionally over medium heat). When cooked, remove bacon. Decrease heat to medium low, then add in the garlic and onions to cook in the bacon grease. Sautee for around 3 minutes, or until lightly cooked.
Sprinkle the flour into the skillet . Mix to combine. Cook for 3-5 minutes (this will eliminate the floury taste).
Pour in milk. Stir to combine. Allow it to heat for 2-3 minutes before slowly mixing in the shredded cheese (I add the cheese in 3 portions, mixing after each addition).
Stir in hot sauce, pasta, crumbled bacon, and salt/pepper.
Sprinkle the top of the pasta with a little more cheese, panko, and salt/pepper.
Bake for 10 minutes then switch to the broiler for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before eating.