My good friend Erin was planning a holiday party, and she asked me to make something for the food spread. Erin throws a really mean party, so I of course obliged and wanted to make a crowd pleaser. One of my favorite indulgent dishes is mac and cheese. While some people shy away from making a really unhealthy mac, I figure it is the holiday season, so what's a little more butter, bacon, and cheese going to do to our already expanding waistlines. The party was a lot of fun and the mac and cheese was a tasty addition to Erin's spread of ham croissant sandwiches, vegetable platters, quiches, and dessert treats. We all gathered around the tree and drank ourselves silly; a truly successful holiday party.
The key to good mac and cheese is using high quality cheeses, and making a lot of sauce. Everyone likes a really gooey mac and cheese where you get a great bite full of noodles and rich, cheesy sauce. I adapted this recipe from the Dumac and Cheese from the restaurant Dumont in Williamsburg, BK. I also felt like a total fat kid when buying the ingredients at Whole Foods. There's nothing quite like checking out with 2 lbs of cheese, butter, cream and pasta...
You can get as creative as you want with the ingredients you add. I put in bacon and onions, but if you're feeling experimental, you could put in jalapeno for some spice, red peppers for some sweetness, or even some apples or candied ginger for a different feel to the dish.
(Makes enough for a 9x13" baking dish - I doubled the recipe for the party)
1/2 lb extra sharp white cheddar shredded
1/2 lb gruyere shredded
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 stick butter
5-6 slices of slab bacon cut into small squares/slices
1 medium onion chopped
1.5 cups heavy cream
1.5 cups whole milk
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni al dente, about 5-6 minutes
- Drain the pasta, toss in olive oil, and set aside to cool
- Bring the cream and milk to a simmer in a saucepan (don't let it boil or it will curdle)
- Heat a heavy bottom pot on medium and add the bacon
- Cook until brown, remove the bacon bits, and place on a paper towel to crisp up
- Add the butter to the bacon fat and stir around to melt
- Add the onions and sautee until translucent, about 5-6 minutes
- Once the onions are starting to brown, add the flour and scrape the bottom with a whisk or wooden spoon so the flour doesn't burn. The flour should cook until turning golden. Make sure you don't burn the flour as it will make the dish bitter and it won't taste very good.
- Add the cream/milk and a healthy amount of salt and pepper and stir through
- Add the cheese and the crispy bacon, reserving about 1/2 a cup of cheese to top the mac and cheese, and stir until cheese has melted
- Once the sauce is smooth, pour it over the noodles and stir so that all of the noodles are thoroughly coated and pour the mixture into a buttered 9x13 baking dish or gratin dish
- Sprinkle the mac and cheese with the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs and place in the oven, baking for about 20 minutes until the top is brown and crisp
- Let cool for 10-15 minutes and serve