Bacon Pea Mac & Cheese Is The Perfect Way to Kick Off Comfort Food Season
First off, who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? And secondly, my sister REALLY loves mac and cheese, so this is an homage to her baked pasta loving tendencies. I love the straightforward, simple version, but every now and then I get the itch to liven it up a bit. This is a very simple way to do that: through in a little bacon and some peas, and BOOM, instant elevation. The bacon and peas have that lovely salty/sweet combination, with peas bringing a little bit of freshness to this decadent dish.
4 ounces gruyere, grated
8 ounces yellow cheddar, grated
4 ounces parm, grated
8 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
8 ounces macaroni
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper
1 3/4 pints milk
several sprigs of parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon chili flake
1 bay leaf
up to 6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
For the beschamel, bring the milk and everything else except for the butter and flour to a simmer. In a separate sauce pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until just crisp. Remove the bacon, but keep the fat in the pan. If there isn’t 6 tablespoons of fat, add the difference in butter and melt, then add the flour. Stir until doughy and smelling a bit nutty (about one minute). Strain in the milk about a half cup at a time, whisking to incorporate with the butter and flour mix. It should be smooth and velvety, not chunky or too thick. If it is, just add some more milk to thin it out.
Take off heat and add the grated cheese. Fold in 1/4 cup of bacon pieces, macaroni, and then peas.
Meanwhile, mix bread crumbs with a 1/4 cup of the bacon pieces, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of butter, melted.
Pour into a greased baking dish, top with breadcrumbs, and bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on ramekins or one large baking dish), or until the sauce is bubbly and the crust is browned on top.
For more from food enthusiast and cookbook author Claire Thomas go to The Kitchy Kitchen.