Even More Over the Top Mac and Cheese

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Well, time to revisit the recipe since a number of people asked for it at a New Year’s Eve party we attended at Domanico Cellars. The original recipe is here, but this is the one I specifically made on NYE

The Software

1/2 lb of elbow macaroni

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 lb. good quality bacon, preferably thick cut

1 1/2 tablespoon powdered mustard

3 cups whole milk

1/2 cup onion, minced (about 3/4 of a medium onion)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 large egg (lightly beaten)

12 oz Sharp Cheddar  shredded

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper to taste

The Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Shred the cheese and separate into 2 parts, one containing 1/4 of the cheese and 1 containing 3/4 of the cheese.
  • Cook the bacon, reserving the fat. Mince into 1/4 inch pieces when cooled.
  • Mince the onion. Add to the pan that you cooked the bacon in with 1 tsp of bacon fat and cook over medium heat until browned and slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a 4 qt pan.
  • Add pasta and cook for about 5 minutes to al dente and drain.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a 3 qt pan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook until pale blond (about 3 minutes) stirring about every minute.
  • Whisk in onion, paprika and mustard until combined (about 1 minute)
  • Slowly add the milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Slowly add 2 ladles full of the milk mixture to the egg, whisking as you add it. This will temper the egg to keep it from cooking and turning into scrambled eggs. I usually do this in a measuring cup. If there are any lumps (i.e. cooked egg), start over with another egg.
  • Add the egg mixture into the pot and stir a couple of times to combine.
  • Add 3/4 of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the bacon to the pasta and combine.
  • In the pan that you cooked the onions, add one tablespoon of bacon fat over medium high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toss. Cook until they become golden brown, about 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Put pasta and sauce in a 4 qt casserole dish, cover with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in the over for 20 minutes.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes and serve with your favorite hot sauce (or not)

IMPORTANT – don’t fully cook the pasta – it will finish cooking in the oven and it will be completely mushy if you cook it fully on the stove. Also, don’t rinse the pasta after you drain it.

Notes Timing is important on this recipe, so I highly suggest preparing all of your ingredients before you start cooking – it really makes the job much easier when you are not trying to measure something while watching something else. I also highly recommend freezing the cheese for about 10 minutes prior to shredding – it makes it much easier. The shredding can be done in a food processor or using a box grater. Don’t buy the pre-shredded cheese, it really doesn’t taste the same and shredding yourself will take you 2 or 3 minutes extra and it will be worth it. I really like Beecher’s Flagship Cheese in this recipe, but if you aren’t local to Seattle, you probably won’t be able to find it, so just use your favorite cheddar.  I really like Skagit River Ranch’s bacon for this recipe, but any good quality bacon will work. The pasta and sauce can be made in advance and then put in the oven later – just put it in the casserole dish, covered in the fridge and when you are ready to cook it, remove it from the fridge, uncover and let it sit at room temp for 15 minutes while you warm the oven. The leftovers also make really good fried mac and cheese the next day, that is, if there is any left.

 

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