Pop Quiz! What's the only thing that can make a marvelously melty Mac and Cheese better? If you guessed bacon you are correct! But wait, haven’t we done a Bacon Mac and Cheese before? Yes, yes we have but this time... we’ve leveled up!
Imagine, if you will, meaty morsels of sweet & smoky BBQ Bacon Ends, atop previously mentioned melty Mac. Can you see it? Each fatty, super-tender piece adding an extra layer of chewy, charred delight to your Smoky-Licious spoonfuls of macaroni and cheese. Are you with us? Good, because we’re going to guide you on a journey through the elbows of the tastiest Mac and Cheese you’ve ever had!
Before you get to grating (because, yes, you should always grate your own cheese), here are 3 tips to make sure your mac comes out to toasty perfection.
- While we encourage you to choose a pasta of your liking, we suggest choosing one that will catch and hold your cheese. Try to stay away from long, thin pasta like spaghetti and linguine, and shapes that are super tiny and unable to hold onto the cheese.
- Take a Classic Macaroni and Cheese route by incorporating your cheese into a Béchamel sauce to then create a Mornay sauce. We know this sounds super fancy but, fret not, it's all quite easy. Béchamel is just a simple white sauce, made from butter, flour, and milk. Add cheese and voilà it magically becomes Mornay sauce which you then add to your al dente pasta before baking.
- Cheese is the supporting actor in this dish, because BBQ Bacon Ends, duh! However, it plays a major role in the success of this dish so go with a good blend that pairs well together. We chose Monterey Jack and a Sharp Cheddar to give us that classic mac look and taste, but Gruyere and Parmesan are a lovely pairing as well.
Now you’re all prepared to Mac it up, let’s get to cookin!
Serves 6 to 8
- 16 oz cooked BBQ Bacon ends
- 3 slices thick sandwich bread, torn into pieces
- 2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
- 5 Tablespoons butter for melting
- 1 Lb elbow macaroni
- 6 Teaspoons flour
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons dry mustard
- 1/4 Teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 5 Cups whole milk
- 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat broiler.
- Pulse bread and 2 tablespoons cold butter in food processor until consistency of bread crumbs.
- Salt and boil 4 quarts water in a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot. We like to make the water salty, like the sea, to give the macaroni flavor, but salt to your preference
- Once water is boiling, add macaroni and cook until al-dente. Drain and set aside.
- Melt 5 tablespoons butter in the empty pot. Slowly whisk in the flour, mustard, cayenne and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the consistency is smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until it’s thick, like heavy cream, about 5 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and whisk in all the cheese until it’s completely melted.
- Stir in the macaroni and cook until it's hot again.
- Pour the entire mixture into a 13 x 9-inch broiler safe baking dish. Sprinkle the top with bread crumb mixture and cover with BBQ Bacon Ends and broil until the Ends (about 3-5 minutes...keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn)
- Remove, let sit a few minutes and then enjoy!