When it comes to real comfort food, for me nothing beats Mac and Cheese. Creamy, cheesy, salty, carb-y goodness. Yum. And there is nothing healthy about it. Nope, not at all. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t worth an extra round on the elliptical. I made this after a particularly crummy day spent fighting with the University bureaucracy and it made me feel much better.
If you don’t want to add the bacon, that’s totally ok. If you want to use different cheeses, feel free! Mac and Cheese is one of the most forgiving meals, as long as you keep things in proportion. I’ve made this with mixes of gouda, munster, fontina, goat cheese with some fennel or leeks or whatever thrown in. Make this whatever you want it to be. I doubled this recipe for my batch (I’m used to cooking this for events) and it’s more than enough to keep a household of three happy for over a week.
Baked Macaroni and CheeseFrom: The All New Joy of Cooking
- 2 c. (8 oz) elbow macaroni (I used shells)
- 1Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs flour
- 2 c milk
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 8oz cups grated Sharp Cheddar and Jack cheese (or whatever cheese you like) plus some for the top
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bread crumbs- optional
- 12oz bacon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to rolling boil in medium saucepan. Add macaroni and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and put in large bowl.
Chop bacon into 1/2 in pieces. Heat a medium sized skillet and throw in the bacon pieces. Cook until bacon is crispy. Drain pieces on some paper towels and set aside. Reserve 1Tbs of bacon fat and add to large saucepan.
In large saucepan, with the reserved bacon grease, add 1 Tbs butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Stir in onion, bay leaf and paprika. Simmer gently, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf. Stir in cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in bacon.
Add cheese mixture to macaroni. Pour mixture into greased, deep 1 1/2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese mixed with bread crumbs. Bake about 30 minutes, until slightly browned on top and bubbling. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.