Smoky Bacon Mac

American Classics aren’t only books you read — they are things you remember. They’re ice cream cones, apple pie, gym class, parades, homeroom, and mac and cheese.
— Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade of HomeRoom Restaurant in Oakland, California
Smoky Bacon Mac

SMOKY BACON MAC

From: The Mac + Cheese Cookbook 50 Simple Recipes from HomeRoom by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade

1/2 pound dried elbow pasta
1 lb sliced bacon
2 cups Mac Sauce (see below)
1 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese
1 cup grated jack cheese

Mac Sauce

2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
 

To make the Mac Sauce

1. Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, but is not boiling, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Heat the butter over medium heat in a separate, heavy-bottomed pot. When the butter has just melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. Slowly pour the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. It will get very thick when you first add the milk, and thinner as you slowly pour in the rest of the milk. If you want a thicker sauce do not add all 2 1/2 cups. You can check consistency after adding the cheese and as more milk as needed to reach desired consistency. It will continue to thicken as it cooks. 

4. Once all the milk has been added, set the pot back over medium-high heat, and continue to whisk constantly. In the next 2 to 3 minutes the sauce should come together and become silky and thick. Use the spoon test to make sure it's ready: Dip a metal spoon into the sauce—if the sauce coats the spoon and doesn't slide off like milk, you'll know it's ready. You should be able to run your finger along the spoon and have the impression remain. Add the salt.

5. The Mac Sauce is ready to use immediately and does not need to cool. Set it aside while you prep the pasta and bacon. (You can make it ahead of time and store in fridge for up to 2 days.)

Now, to make the Smoky Bacon Mac

1. Cook the bacon in a frying pan over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove from pan onto plate lined with papertowels, pat away extra grease as necessary.  Cut into bite size pieces. 

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until a little less than al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain the pasta again. 

3. Add the sauce and both cheeses to a large heavy bottomed pot (I use my handy dutch oven) and cook over medium heat. Stir until the cheese is barely melted, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon and stir to combine. Slowly add the cooked pasta, stir, and continue cooking while stirring continuously until the dish is nice and hot, about 5 minutes. 

4. Spoon into bowls and serve hot. 

*If you prefer baked mac with the little crispity crunchy bits on top you can additionally:

Spoon mac into an even layer in a 9x11 baking dish and top with 1/2 cup panko. Bake until bubbly, and topping is golden brown, about 15 minutes (or you can do this right in the dutch oven, it just won't be as pretty). Then spoon into bowls and serve hot. 

US GP F1Cookbook

This duo has created, not only an amazing restaurant, community, and cookbook, but they have included in said cookbook some very clever recipes and funny stories along the way. They even inspired the dessert recipe for this race, a lifelong favorite of my husband's: Banana Cream Pie. I've used their variation on this by making them in mason jars for individual servings! 

Mac + Cheese Cookbook
Jars of PIe