I’ve never met a macaroni and cheese I didn’t love. My heart swoons over every possible incarnation of pasta and cheese. I love it homemade or frozen. I like it creamy or baked with an egg. I’ll even eat the kind whose cheese comes in powdered form, even though the ingredient list makes me cringe. And during my teaching days, I ordered school lunch mac and cheese almost every single day. That was some good mac and cheese! If I were to be stranded on a desert island and had to pick just one food to eat until rescued, I’d be hard-pressed not to select mac and cheese, even though my logic tells me that would be a poor choice. Macaroni and cheese makes my heart sing with joy.
The chilly turn of the weather has me bypassing light crisp salads in favor of hot, filling dishes, such as my beloved macaroni and cheese. The fun thing about macaroni and cheese is that you can get really creative with customizing your favorite blends of cheese. It’s hard to go wrong. Start with a base of milk, thickened into a sauce with a roux of flour and butter, then have fun throwing in your favorite cheeses or whatever you’ve got leftover in the fridge. There are endless mouth-watering combinations. My favorite versions usually involve melty and delicious brie. But for tonight’s rendition, I was looking for a little spice. So, I threw in some Pepperjack cheese in combination with creamy cream cheese and flavorful sharp cheddar. For a little added flavor and crunch, I added some crumbled bacon. Bacon makes everything better!
Have fun with this recipe. Follow it as written, or substitute with equal quantities of your favorite cheeses. Take it as a basic mac and cheese recipe, and get creative from there!
Spicy Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 3 Tbsp Butter
- 3 Tbsp Flour
- 2 cups Milk (skim would be fine)
- 4 ounces Cream Cheese (1/2 bar)
- 4 ounces Pepperjack Cheese (5 slices)
- 4 ounces Shredded Sharp Cheddar (1 cup)
- 1/2 tsp Salt (plus more, if desired)
- 1/2 pound Bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 pound Pasta, cooked
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Strain and set aside. In a saucepan, combine butter and flour over medium heat. Cook for a couple minutes, until it forms a thin paste-like consistency. Add the milk and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for a few minutes until the milk thickens. Turn the heat down to low and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce. Season with salt. Stir in the crumbled bacon. Pour the hot sauce over the cooked pasta and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately. Garnish with a few pieces of crumbled bacon and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese.