Today I caught ABCs The Chew for the first time. It was noon, the kids home on winter break, I knew I should be making lunch but I was uninspired and I’m a sucker for any kind of cooking show so I sat on the couch instead.
In the first segment they made Mac and Cheese. Now, Mac and Cheese is not my thing. I’ve lived in the US for 20 years now, but it has just never appealed to me, especially not the from-a-box variety my kids like. Bacon, on the other hand, is a whole different story 🙂
I didn’t take any notes or look up the recipe (I found it later here), but in the first ad break I turned on a pot of water to heat, and dug out a couple partial boxes of pasta.
So, it wasn’t exactly like the orignal recipe. I didn’t have any squash. My bacon was already cooked and drained so I had to add some extra bacon grease back in (yes, there’s a reason I keep some in the back of the fridge). I used our every day cheese instead of something fancy. I didn’t have breadcrumbs so just grated up a couple of slices of sandwich bread. Oh, and I entirely missed the garlic and nutmeg, seasoning with just a little black pepper instead. As is usual for our house, I used fresh whole milk (about 4%) instead of half-and-half.
Although some of my substitutions and guesses were probably less than ideal, it turned out well. My kids liked it. I even liked it. And, it was done and on the table before The Chew was over. I might be a Mac and Cheese convert!
Mac and Cheese Casserole
- pasta (I used some whole wheat spirals and some of those little rings, maybe 3/4 box total)
- 6 strips bacon
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- black pepper to taste
- whole milk (1-2 cups)
- cheese (I used Marble Jack, Cheddar, and Parmesan, grated to make about 2-3 cups)
- 1 TB dried parsley
- 2 slices bread, grated
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, but reduce the time by a couple of minutes. Preheat the oven (I used 350F, but the 365-400F in the recipe would be quicker and result in a toastier topping).
Meanwhile, cook the bacon and onion (since my bacon was already cooked and drained I also added in about a tablespoon of bacon grease that I just happened to have handy) in an oven-safe frying pan. Stir the flour into the bacon drippings in the pan, stir in the milk. When the milk is hot, stir in half the cheese. Stir in the drained pasta.
Mix the remaining cheese with the bread crumbs and parsley and layer it over the pasta.
Bake until slightly browned on top (at this temperature that was 15-20 minutes).