Mac n' Cheese with Smokey Bacon

By Fongolicious - December 18, 2014

Growing up, if someone offered me "mac n’ cheese", I would get a highly processed, neon orange dish that came out of a blue packet. The smell of that instantly turned me off. 

While travelling in the US, mac n' cheese was on offer almost everywhere. From street cart vendors to family restaurants. At first I had my suspicions, but surely queues of people to just one mac ‘n’ cheese store cannot be all bad!

So as the saying goes “when it Rome…”, in this case “when in America…” you eat mac ‘n’ cheese. I have to say, man was I wrong.  I mean if I really thought about it, it’s just pasta and cheese but there is something about it that’s just so tasty! I understand the queues now. With Mac n’ cheese, there are different blends of cheeses and a variety of other toppings. When someone gets the mix right, you’ll be sure there will be people lining up for a taste. 

Feeling a bit travel-sick (as in missing my travelling days), I wanted to have the ol' mac n' cheese of the US. So OG made me this and it was DELICIOUS! A little different to the "traditional" macaroni and cheese, where he added bacon, mushroom and broccoli. Feel free to add your own favourites or just leave them out. If you decide to use mushroom, be sure to put them on top. That nice roasted style leaving a shrivelled fungi yet rich mushroom flavour is awesome!

500g pasta - I used the shell pasta, but elbows, macaroni, penne are good to hold this dish
200g bacon, diced
~300g mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
Milk, enough to make a sauce 1 to 4 cups
~200g grated cheese - cheddar, colby, gouda is good as it melts nicely
 ~1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets 
~100g parmesan, grated

1. Boil pasta as per in packet instructions. Grease a large baking dish with butter. Preheat oven to 180C. 

2. In a large pot, on high heat, fry bacon until crispy. Remove from pan. 

3. Saute mushroom (minus a handful for the top) and garlic in bacon fat, add butter add a tablespoon of flour. Coating the mushrooms with the flour and cook flour down. The premise here is to make a roux. 

4. Reduce heat and add milk, add cheese, and milk and keep mixing. Return bacon, add breadcrumbs and pasta. Stir well.

5. Add pasta mixture to prepared baking dish. Coat the top with a bit more breadcrumbs for that extra crunch. scatter the broccoli florets and push them in. Coat with parmesan and mushrooms. Bake until cheese is melted and browned and mushrooms have shrivelled. About 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot!

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