I woke up yesterday morning, and there was snow on the ground. SNOW. Sticking. On. The. Ground. Geez Louise, it's the middle of April. I was peeved. Really peeved.
If mother nature won't give us springtime warmth, we'll have to crank up our ovens and make our kitchens cozy. So today we're making a familiar favorite, Macaroni and Cheese. Piles of melty, gooey cheese are punctuated with salty, savory bacon. And pasta. I think that pasta is food's way of giving us a hug. That'll stick it to the snow.
Let's make comfort food.
Three Cheese and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound small pasta (I used bowties.)
8 ounces bacon
1/2 onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and diced
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk (I used 1% because that's what we drink.)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for one minute less than al dente. (Since we're baking this pasta, it will finish cooking in the oven.) Drain pasta and set aside.
Put the empty pasta pot back on the stove over medium-high heat. (You could use a separate pot, but I don't like washing dishes.) Add bacon and cook until it's just barely crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Once it's cool enough to handle, chop bacon and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease from the pot.
Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the onion. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, 5- minutes. (Scrape the bottom of the pan as the onion cooks to incorporate the bacon-y browned bits into it.) Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Remove onions and garlic from the pot and set aside. Add 3 tablespoons butter to the pot. Stir in flour and allow it to cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in mustard, mozzarella, and cheddar until the cheese is melted.
Stir cooked pasta, onions, garlic, and chopped bacon into the cheese sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour pasta into prepared baking dish.
Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and combine it with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle on top of pasta. Bake macaroni and cheese for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and it's hot throughout.