Last week was tough. Temps were in the negatives, my husband was working late at the university bookstore since all the students returned from Christmas break, and my dear brother went home after a nice extended visit here. So, in honor of my brother and the cold weather that is just begging for comfort food, I’m going to share this mac ‘n’ cheese recipe with you. He probably made it once a week while he was here, and now every time I see this silly food, I think of him. Of course, this is a more refined recipe then your average blue box, but it tastes that more much indulgent with the extra effort.
What you need:
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
4 cloves garlic, smashed and divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming. Whisk milk it into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth. Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
While that bakes, heat a saute pan. Add the bacon, render the fat and cook until crispy. Add garlic and cook for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, scatter the bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoking bacon mixture on each spoonful. ENJOY! Also, I will say that this recipe reheats nicely, if you have leftovers.
I’m sure my dear brother has a slightly different flair that he puts on this recipe. Mine is that I some times will add finely chopped kale to trick myself into thinking I’m eating some thing with nutritional value… Either way, a delicious recipe for cold winter days!