We’re eating uber creamy baked sharp cheddar and muenster mac and cheese with smokey bacon, roasted garlic, and sweet caramelized onions topped with crunchy panko bread crumbs.
Recently I taped an episode of the Dr. Oz show for a segment entitled “Is Food Porn Making You Fat?”. If you’ve been a follower of this site for a while, you know that I a) run a food porn site and b) lost the equivalent of a supermodel in weight while writing the cookbook about food porn a few years ago. So is food porn making you fat? In my opinion, NO, staring at images of food will not make you fat… but if you make this mac & cheese everyday and don’t have the self control to only eat one portion – this recipe might! It’s so rich, creamy and loaded with flavor that you will have a hard time putting the fork down or not reaching for seconds. The first question my dinner partners asked after taking a bite was, “Is there crack in this?” Nope, no crack, I swear! Just good old creamy mac and cheese. (Though the bacon doesn’t hurt either.) If you think you’ve got the self-control to not devour the whole pan single-handedly, make this as a side for dinner and listen to the “mmm’s” that ensue. Buen provecho!
For the sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp mustard powder
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
8 oz shredded muenster
cloves from 2 bulbs roasted garlic, minced into a paste (recipe follows)
2 caramelized yellow onions (recipe follows)
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
10 oz elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente according to the directions on the package
For the topping:
1/2 cup panko
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a deep glass or ceramic loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a small bowl, toss together the panko bread crumbs and olive oil for the topping. Work the oil into the bread crumbs with your fingers until evenly disbursed with no lumps. Place in a dry saute pan over medium heat. Toast the bread crumbs until golden, stirring regularly for even toasting. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil pasta until tender according to the directions on the package. Drain thoroughly.
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking,make the cheese sauce. Add butter to a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add flour to create the roux. Cook the roux, whisking constantly for about 2 to 3 minutes, to cook away the raw flour flavor. Slowly drizzle in the room temperature milk while whisking constantly to dissolve the roux into the liquid. When the liquid is first introduced the roux will begin to seize up, but as more liquid is added it will return to a smooth paste. Adding the liquid too quickly will result in a lumpy sauce. Once all milk has been incorporated into the bechemel, add the mustard powder. Stir. Cook bechemel over medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching, until sauce comes to a simmer, not a boil. Simmer 2-3 more minutes until thickened to the point of coating the back of a spoon. Add muenster, sharp cheddar and roasted garlic paste. Stir until cheese has completely melted into the bechemel. Taste. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper as desired.
In a large bowl or pot, combine cooked/drained macaroni, cheese sauce, caramelized onions and bacon. Stir to coat pasta thoroughly and evenly disperse ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle top evenly with toasted panko. Place into preheated oven. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until cheese sauce is bubbly around the edges. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Buen provecho!
2 whole bulb garlic
canola or olive oil
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off just the tip of the pointed-end of the bulbs of garlic to expose the tips of each clove. Drizzle exposed cloves with canola oil then sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Wrap completely in aluminum foil with the exposed-clove side facing up inside the packet. Place foil packet into oven and roast at 350 for 1 hour or until soft and golden. Remove from oven and let cool until able to handle. Remove the cloves by squeezing the base of the bulb until the cloves push out.
1 tbsp canola oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Add oil to a large saute pan and place over low heat. Preheat pan for 2 minutes then add the onions. Toss to coat with oil. Slowly saute the onions, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the onions have caramelized and are golden, sweet and tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Season onions to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Caramelized onions can be made a few days in advance and heated just before ready for use.