As I mentioned before, I love Food Network. I'll be honest and say that I'm not an extremely huge fan of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I'll watch her if she's on, but something about her is just odd to me. Plus, most of her recipes have about one million calories in them...and I usually try to avoid food like that.
Well, one day the Barefoot Contessa happened to be on and Jeremy and I ended up watching it. On the episode, she made a "Grown Up Mac and Cheese" that looked pretty dang good! Jeremy requested that I make so I did.
This is a delicious Mac and Cheese with some complex flavors from the three different cheeses and the bacon in it. That's right...there's bacon in it too. Yum! The first time I made it, I followed the recipe to a "t," and I found the blue cheese flavor to be a bit strong for my taste. I recently made it again with a milder blue cheese and it was FANTASTIC! The bubbly cheese, the crisp bacon and the crunchy breadcrumb topping = simply amazing!
As usual, I used skim milk and whole wheat flour. Plus, I didn't feel like making fresh breadcrumbs, so I just used store bought kind, and I cooked the bacon in the microwave like I normally do. Please note that this recipe say it serves 2 people...yea well, maybe if those 2 people can eat a TON of pasta. Seriously Ina, what are you thinking?! I've found that this recipe can very easily feed a group of 4 or at least give me and Jeremy dinner for two days. Enjoy!
In the oven cooking. (I forgot to get a picture before we ate it, so just imagine it looking bubbly and having golden crumbs on top.)
Grown Up Mac and Cheese by Ina Garten
- 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
- Vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
- 2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
- Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
- Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.