Bacon, ale, and cheddar mac ‘n cheese

Say cheese…and more, please

Originally appeared in the December 09, 2010 edition of the Southside Times.

You might say I’m misappropriating the line from James Hilton’s Lost Horizon when I call bacon, beer, and cheese the “triple mischiefs” of this dish, but there’s really no other way to describe these distinct ingredients competing to be the hero in this recipe.  Quite honestly, they all win—both individually and in concert.  Read more here:The bacon delivers a salty-smoky personality that plays nicely with the smooth-and-sharp character of the earthy white cheddar.  And remember, this recipe isn’t coming from a box, and the cheese isn’t some powder in a packet; so don’t skimp here—invest in a high quality cheddar.  The beer is a bonus, but one that will surely set your mac ‘n cheese apart.  I’d suggest using either an amber ale (like Bass) or, if you’re wont to do, something heavier and darker.

This baked macaroni-and-cheese can be served as either a side dish complimenting a hearty entree, or as a stout, stand-alone meal.  It’s a rich dish intended for sweater weather, one made all the more fulfilling by adding these atmospheric “mischiefs”:  Watching snow fall on a lazy day in a warm house, with an eager appetite and people to please.

Bacon, Ale, and Cheddar Mac ’N Cheese

Serves 6 – 8 as entree

  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 strips of thick slice bacon, diced
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 6 ounces amber ale
  • 2 ¾ cups milk (whole or 2 percent)
  • 12 ounces grated aged white cheddar
  • 1 dash Tabasco
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • To taste, kosher salt
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water until tender and barely cooked through (will cook more in oven).

2.  While pasta is cooking, prepare sauce.  In medium saucepot, cook bacon until slightly crispy.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Add garlic, cook until aromatic (don’t burn).  Add butter and wait until melted.  Add flour.  Stir until flour has absorbed fat—this will form the thickening paste called a roux.  Add beer.  Cook beer down and stir until incorporated with the roux.  Scrape bottom of saucepot with wooden spoon.  Whisk in milk.  Continue to cook until mixture has thickened.

3.  Stir in the cheese a little at a time.  Add Tabasco, Worcestershire, mustard, and only ¼ teaspoon of each paprika and pepper (add rest later).  Taste for salt and adjust.  Also adjust for consistency—if mixture is too thick, add more milk.  Drain pasta, pour into cheese mixture and stir.

4.  Select a square (9-by-9-inch) or rectangle (9-by-13-inch) baking pan.  Grease pan with oil or spray well with nonstick pan spray.  Pour in macaroni mixture.  Sprinkle remaining paprika and pepper over the top.  Add breadcrumbs.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes at 350ºF.  Uncover and place back in the oven until breadcrumbs are toasted and golden.  Remove from oven.  Allow dish to cool before serving.

Published in: on December 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Darcie and I made something kind of like this and it was SO yummy. I would never think to put bacon and mac ‘n cheese together. I’ll have to try it!

    • I made a large batch of this stuff last week. It was like a mac ‘n cheese marathon around my house. Let me know if you prepare this recipe, and tell me what kind of beer you decide use. Thanks for the feedback. Later, Nug Life.

  2. I’ve made this several times and will be making it again tomorrow for an Octoberfest pitch-in dinner. It’s soooo much better than regular mac & cheese. My sons devoured it. I used Miller Lite beer!!

    • Diane: It was so good to see you and Chris today. And your comment inspired my family’s dinner this evening! Thanks for dropping me a comment, and I hope to see you again soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: