Hands up if you love bacon! If you raised your hand this recipe is for you.
I've had this recipe for Bacon Lover's Mac and Cheese printed out for awhile now but I wanted to wait for fall weather to make it. As soon as the temps dipped into the 60s I put it on my menu and now I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. It was delicious. The bacon flavor is pronounced but not overwhelming and it isn't nearly as heavy as I would have thought it would be due to the mushrooms and spinach. SP and I absolutely loved this. I served it with a simple green salad and homemade vinaigrette dressing, which also helped cut the richness of the pasta. I can't wait to make this one again.
I divided the recipe in half and froze one half, unbaked, to have on one of those nights when I don't feel like cooking. I love recipes like that.
Bacon Lover’s Mac and Cheese
Slightly Modified from Annie's Eats
1 lb. short-cut pasta
8 slices bacon, chopped
12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. Fontina cheese, grated
8 oz. white cheddar cheese, grated
1 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped or torn
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup panko
Preheat the oven to 400.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Return the pan to the heat and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Remove mushrooms from the pan.
Add the reserved bacon grease to the skillet. (If there was not enough bacon grease to make 2 tablespoons, replace the missing amount by adding an equal amount of butter.) Heat over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted. Whisk in the flour and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden and fragrant but not burned, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken. Whisk in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Fontina and white cheddar until completely melted and smooth.
Return the drained pasta to the pot. Mix in the cooked bacon and mushrooms, the cheese sauce and the chopped spinach. Stir everything together gently until well combined. Combine melted butter and panko in a bowl.
Spread the mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish. (You can also separate the mixture into two greased casserole dishes and freeze one). Add the buttered panko to the top of the mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is light golden and the cheese is bubbling.