Saturday, March 10

Mac & Cheese for Grownups

Perhaps not the most attractive dish, but its charms make up for its appearance.

A friend of mine threw an Oscar party a few Sundays ago and I brought over this busy, bad-for-you, rich as Hell macaroni and cheese (adapted from here). If you love blue cheese, bacon, sundried tomatoes, sex, love, life, or magic, then you'll love this.
It's perfect for traveling because you can prepare it the day before and just haul it over and cook it anywhere so long as there's an oven. That way it's served hot and fresh and you can torture your friends with the intoxicating odor of bacon while it cooks.

(As always, there is no exact science to this. My madness has no method. Just go with your gut in terms of measurements.)

Ingredients:
Elbow macaroni
Three kinds of cheese - Aside from the blue cheese, your choices don't really matter. I used 2/3 package of sharp cheddar, 2/3 package of a mozzarella/provolone blend and about 2/3 a container of blue cheese. (One day I'm going to try this with feta cheese instead of blue.)
4 tbsp butter
1.5 cups of milk
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 package of sun dried tomatoes
1 package of bacon
Panko, ground chipotle peppers, black pepper, oregano and garlic to your heart's content.

To make vegetarian: leave out the bacon and Worcestershire (it has anchovies!) and just do cheese and tomatoes, or add something jazzy of your own. I'm certain fresh spinach and red peppers would be amazing in this.

First you're going to want to cook your bacon. I like to burn it a little so it crumbles easier, but you can do whatever you want. The sundried tomatoes I buy are whole, so while my bacon cooks I dice them up.
Also start cooking up that box of pasta according to the directions. I guess you want it a little al dente but whatever, it's going to get baked so just cook it.
When it's still nice and hot from boiling, throw the pasta in a bowl with your milk, Worcestershire and butter and stir until all the butter is melted and your pasta is coated in dairy. Then coat it in more dairy by adding the three cheeses, your tomatoes, the crumbled bacon bits and your chipotle, pepper, oregano and garlic. It gets a little tough to mix so you want to add all of this crap at once.
When all of the cheese and spices and tomatoes and bacons are evenly dispersed, spread the dairy/pasta mass into a greased baking dish and sprinkle however much Panko you want over the top. When ready, place in the oven at 350 and bake for 30-40 minutes. I usually wait until the Panko is a little brown and the house smells like bacon.

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