I mentioned that I made two recipes from Katie's blog for the recent Blogger's Choice swap. This is the second, a version of the Panera mac and cheese I've made countless times - Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Peas. I think Katie is brilliant for adding bacon and peas to this recipe, two things my whole family loves and I always have on hand. This was the perfect recipe to make one weeknight when my planned meal went awry due to woody, thick, overpriced asparagus at the supermarket.
Once again Baby Girl impressed me with her eating, asking for multiple pieces of cooked bacon and snacking on frozen peas. Bacon was something she's tried before and kept claiming she didn't like. I guess she finally changed her mind. The frozen pea thing perplexes me - the kid loves eating things straight from the freezer.
I haven't been able to find pipette pasta in the store before (that's the shape Panera uses) but I was at a different grocery store recently, saw it in the pasta aisle and grabbed a box to keep on hand. I was so excited to finally use it. It holds the sauce so well and the opening was the perfect size for the peas to hide.
This is a fantastic version of one my favorite stovetop macaroni and cheese with the added bonus of a veggie built right in. And everything is better with bacon.
Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Peas
As seen on So Tasty, So Yummy
1 pound small pasta (shells, elbows, pipette)
4 slices bacon
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 ounces white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
8 ounces extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, chopped or torn into pieces
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Return to the pot.
While the pasta cooks, cook the bacon in a medium-size pot. Drain the bacon on paper towels and crumble. Leave four tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pot and whisk in the flour; cook for 1 1/2 minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Stir peas and bacon into the pot with the pasta, then add the cheese sauce. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Serve immediately.