Jan 20, 2013

Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

J-man was somewhere around 18 months when I cooked this for the first time. The recipe belongs to a woman who entered a contest at ABC for the best Mac ‘n Cheese. She submitted the winning recipe, and then I tweaked it because I can’t leave well enough alone.

Now I’ve never really been a Mac & Cheese fan; in Holland we grow up on a different kind of macaroni. As much as I love cheese sauce, I just need some veggies and meat (optionally) to go with it, like my Pasta Gratin but I knew I had to try this version.

I vividly remember J-man’s reaction to it. After his first bite he leaned into the table, his chubby little hands reaching for the plate, trying to get his face as close to it as he possibly could, forcing me to shove it into that tiny mouth at warp-speed. It was pretty hilarious.

But in all fairness, with 3 different cheeses, a bulb of roasted garlic, and lots of bacon? Yup, this really is the best mac ‘n cheese, ever.

 

Ingredients:

 

Mac & Cheese 

1 pound macaroni grande (or a pasta of choice)
1 bulb roasted garlic
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt
6 oz grated Gruyère
8 oz grated Cheddar
1/2 cup minced shallot
3 + 2/3 cups of milk
6 tbsp butter

 
Topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs
5 oz smoked bacon
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tbsp melted butter

 

Directions:

 
Photographic intense posting ahead. Brace yourself!
 

In case you’re not sure how to roast garlic, here’s a how to roast and freeze garlic. (Warning: very bad photography!)
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
We’ll be using the whole bulb. That might seem like a lot, but really, it isn’t. When you roast garlic it becomes sweet, mellow and buttery.
 

Use a fork to turn the garlic into a smooth paste.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Peel and mince as much shallots until you end up with 1/2 a cup.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Cook the bacon.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Look at it sizzling away, gotta love those salty protein bubbles. Have to fight the urge to dip my finger in it.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
Keep going until all the bacon is cooked through and through. Drain it on a paper towel.
 

Eventually you’ll be left with a plate full of crispy bacon and a skillet full of bacon fat. Terrible, isn’t it?
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
Yeah, right.
 

Let’s save a tbsp or so. Just for the heck of it.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Figured this was the perfect opportunity to put the grater I got from Fonq to the test. Grate 1 cup of Parmesan.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Mix the parmesan with the panko, dried parsley, and crumble the bacon in there. There’s our topping!
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
Grate on!
 

Coarsely grate the Gruyère and cheddar. This really is the magical cheese sauce combo.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

I opted for macaroni grande. Organic, but that was mainly because it was the only grande they sold.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Bring a huge pot of salted water to a boil and add the macaroni. We had an impostor! That was no grande. I threw it in anyway, for good luck.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
 

Heat the bacon fat in a large sauce pan.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Sauté the shallots in the bacon fat for a minute or 2.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Melt the 6 tbsp butter in there as well.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Stir in the mustard powder and flour and cook over low to medium heat for 2 minutes (stir now and then) to neutralise the rawness of the flour.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Pour in splashes of milk and whisk like a madman. Lumps = pretty darn bad, so whisk!
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Eventually you’ll end up with a pan full of creamy sauce.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the roasted garlic paste.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Bring in the cheese!
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Turn off the heat and stir the cheese into the sauce—it will melt immediately. Taste to check the seasoning.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
Pasta should be done by now. Drain it well.
 

Add the sauce to the pasta and stir it in.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Oh yeah, baby.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Transfer it to a 9 x 13″ baking dish.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Not scraping every bit of this delicious sauce out of the pan is a venial sin.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
I think I just rescued you from purgatory!
 

Sprinkle the bacon and Parmesan topping all over the pasta.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

And finally, drizzle 2 tbsp melted butter all over the topping.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Tightly wrap the baking dish with aluminium foil.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

 
Place the baking dish into a preheated oven and bake it for 15 minutes at 200C° (400F°). Remove the aluminium foil, put it back into the oven and bake it uncovered until the sauce is all bubbly hot and the topping is golden brown and crunchy. For me that was another 15 minutes.
 

You’ll want to make this one over and over, mark my words.
Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!

Recipe adapted from Laura Macek.

 

Serving tip:

Country-Style Green Beans

Creamed Corn & Peas

Green Beans. The Ultimate Mix.

 

Best Mac & Cheese. Ever!
Ingredients
    1 pound macaroni grande (or a pasta of choice)
    1 bulb roasted garlic
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 tsp mustard powder
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt
    6 oz grated Gruyère
    8 oz grated Cheddar
    1/2 cup minced shallot
    3 + 2/3 cups of milk
    6 tbsp butter

    Topping:

    1 cup panko
    5 oz smoked bacon
    1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    2 tsp dried parsley
    2 tbsp melted butter

Directions
    Use a fork to mash the garlic into a smooth paste. Mince as much shallots until you end up with 1/2 a cup. Cook the bacon and drain it on a paper towel. reserve 1 tbsp bacon fat.

    Grate the parmesan and mix t with the panko and dried parsley and crumble the bacon in there. Grate the Cheddar and Gruyère. Cook the macaroni in a big pot of salted water according to the instructions on the package.

    Sauté the shallots in the bacon fat for a minute or 2. Melt 6 tbsp butter in there as well and stir in the mustard powder and flour. Cook over low to medium heat for 2 minutes (stir now and then) to neutralise the rawness of the flour.

    Pour in splashes of milk and whisk until you have a lump-free sauce. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the roasted garlic paste. Turn off the heat and melt the cheese into the sauce.

    Drain your paste well, and mix it with the cheese sauce. Transfer the pasta to a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Sprinkle the bacon and Parmesan topping all over the pasta, drizzle 2 tbsp melted butter all over and cover it tightly with aluminium foil.

    Place the baking dish into a preheated oven and bake it for 15 minutes at 200C° (400F°). Remove the aluminium foil, put it back into the oven and bake it uncovered until the sauce is all bubbly hot and the topping is golden brown and crunchy. For me that was another 15 minutes.

Meal type: Pasta
Servings: 4 to 6
Copyright: © kayotickitchen.com

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    21 Comments »

    1. 1

      Kay, this looks delicious.  I am fond of mac and cheese and of the tomato and veg macaroni that you say you grew up with.  Both are great comfort food in this cold weather!
      The best mac and cheese is based on a roux, with a little mustard and a lot of cheese, so this looks perfect — adding bacon is always brilliant.
      Little ones seem to love these simple foods — I always wondered what people could possibly feed their kids who were allergic to milk and eggs!

      Deb in Indiana on Jan 21, 2013 @ 1:41 am Reply
      1. When J refused to eat vegetables for some time, I would just feed the kid mac & cheese and just added a boatload of pureed vegetables :)

        Kay on Feb 22, 2013 @ 2:56 pm Reply
    2. 2

      Well. I find myself drooling behind my laptop again. In the morning. Thanks kay. :P
      It looks delicious! The bacon is a good one!

      Es on Jan 21, 2013 @ 10:07 am Reply
    3. 3

      Looks decadently delicious! Love the panko here.

      Bree {Skinny Mommy} on Jan 21, 2013 @ 4:16 pm Reply
      1. I was tempted to throw in some cheese crackers as well.

        Kay on Feb 22, 2013 @ 2:57 pm Reply
    4. 4

      mmm yum! That looks so good! I love the bacon, garlic and cheese together! 

      Angie @ Big Bear's Wife on Jan 21, 2013 @ 4:25 pm Reply
    5. 5

      Can you stand some competition? I have a recent Mac ‘n Cheese recipe. 
      http://dangermencooking.blogspot.com/2013/01/perfecting-macaroni-and-cheese-work-in.html

      Mark Preston on Jan 21, 2013 @ 6:19 pm Reply
      1. I would totally be up for it, but we don’t have monterey jack, fontina and velveeta here… so I can’t make it.

        Kay on Jan 21, 2013 @ 6:21 pm Reply
    6. 6

      Yeah, death pretty much just became me. YUM.

      Bev @ Bev Cooks on Jan 21, 2013 @ 7:10 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Double Yum.  Your sauce looks so scrumptious.  You married my favorite ingredients, can’t wait to try this weekend.

      Sheree Knapp on Jan 23, 2013 @ 3:17 am Reply
    8. 8

      Ack!  I only have cheddar and Parmesan   I might go ahead and make this anyway.  Looks amazing!

      Joanna on Jan 25, 2013 @ 12:48 am Reply
    9. 9

      Okay, this is going on the menu next week as it looks seriously YUM!

      Tanya on Feb 13, 2013 @ 6:43 am Reply
    10. 10

      Looks amazing and taste great. I need to do It more often. Thanks for the reciepe :)

      Plitvice on Mar 10, 2013 @ 10:10 pm Reply
    11. 11

      Made this recipe today and it was wonderful! A bit much for just the two of us (both male: 43 & 15) hahaha…
      I had some ham from the day before and added it cubed. Plus I couldn’t resist adding 12 grams of sodium citrate to help the cheese melt, stay together and prevent it from falling apart in the oven. That worked really well, cheese ended up nice and stringy.

      Marc on Mar 31, 2013 @ 7:29 pm Reply
      1. I can see why it would be a bit much… it’s a recipe for 4 to 6 people :)

        Kay on Mar 31, 2013 @ 7:34 pm Reply
        1. Lol! But one should never under estimate the amounts my 15 year old can eat… we went about half way :D

          Marc on Mar 31, 2013 @ 7:40 pm Reply
          1. If I see what my 6-year-old can already eat (especially pasta) I fear what’s gonna happen when he turns 15 :)

            Kay on Mar 31, 2013 @ 7:49 pm
    12. 12

      Well… be prepared to create a small baby bath full of Mac & Cheese when your 6 year old turns 15! :D
      (It’s actually exactly the size of two duck legs ;)

      Marc on Mar 31, 2013 @ 9:00 pm Reply
      1. This had me laughing out loud! I’m gonna see if I can find a much bigger casserole soon :)

        Your photo has me hungry all over again.

        Kay on Mar 31, 2013 @ 9:54 pm Reply
    13. 13

      We just made this tonight and it was absolutely divine!! The next week is going to be absolutely amazing, as we’ve pretty much got our lunches planned. This is the best mac ‘n cheese we have ever eaten, ever!

      Clarice on Jun 16, 2013 @ 6:40 am Reply
    14. 14

      Seriously.  I’ve tried plenty of mac and cheese recipes, and NONE come close to “restaurant quality”… this recipe is amazing.  I’m making it again tonight.  You’re epic.

      Lili on Dec 4, 2013 @ 8:23 pm Reply

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