I'm a bacon lover.
I'm not ashamed.
I'm even working on ensuring my sweet niece is a bacon lover also.
Annie over at Annie's Eats totally caught my attention when she presented this Bacon Lover's Mac & Cheese.
I filed it away and then decided I couldn't stand waiting any longer.
Here's how this one goes.
Start out by frying up some bacon in a pan.
While the bacon's cooking to slightly crisp, but still chewy (which is my personal bacon preference), cook up some macaroni, drain, and set aside.
Once the bacon is done cooking, lift the bacon out of the pan. Drain as much of the grease of each piece as you can. You want to reserve as MUCH bacon grease as possible.
Because you're going to use it.
Transfer the bacon grease into a pot and heat over medium heat. In this case, I needed 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, but only had 1 tablespoon of bacon grease, so I subbed 1 tablespoon of butter for the grease I was missing (as per the suggestion in the recipe).
Cook down the butter and grease and whisk in the flour. Cook the flour until golden and fragrant.
Then gradually add the milk and stir constantly until thickened.
I was supposed to add the garlic at the same time as the milk, but I forgot - so I just added it when I remembered.
Then add the spices.
Remove from the burner and add the cheeses by the handful, stirring until each handful is melted.
Then add the pasta.
Add the bacon.
And the spinach.
And serve - maybe with a little more bacon on top.
Can you spot the difference in the picture below?
Dee's irrational need to "style my plate". And make it pretty.
I heart that girl.
What did Dee and I think?
The bacon gave a depth of flavour that was wonderful. I expected it to be more of a sharp cheese flavour, but the fontina soothed the sharpness of the white cheddar and made the cheese sauce extra creamy.
Definitely a "make again"!
The Cane girl - signing off.
Bacon Lover's Mac and Cheese
12 ounces elbow pasta
5 - 6 ounces bacon
2 tablespoons bacon grease
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pinch cayenne pepper
Black pepper, to taste
4 ounces fontina cheese, grated
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Cook bacon in a frying pan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.
- Transfer the bacon grease to a medium sized pot over medium heat. If there's not enough bacon grease to make 2 tablespoons, use butter instead.
- Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat about 1 to 2 minutes or until golden. Add in the garlic.
- Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly until thickened.
- Stir in the salt, red pepper, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Remove the pot from the burner and whisk in the cheeses by the handful until completely melted.
- Add the pasta and stir until combined and well coated.
- Chop the bacon and add to the pasta mixture.
- Stir in the chopped spinach.
- Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling.
- Top with additional bacon if desired.