Our princess Alexandria will eat pasta every day if we let her. She enjoys pasta more than anything in the world. As a special treat I thought I would cook one of her all time favourites - Mac and Cheese. Of course, there had to be a twist. I added bacon and onion to the mix to make it a one pot dish for her dinner.
This has to be one of the easiest pasta dishes to make - it's creamy and gooey texture screams comfort food with every mouthful. The soft pasta is so tender it almost melts in your mouth and being enveloped with the cheesy sauce is just a perfect partnership but made more so tempting with bacon pieces scattered through the mix. OMG - normally more than one serve is eaten. Trust me you will be going back for more than seconds.....
Please note that you want to make more than the recipe - just simply double it. Please resist adding more pasta and cheese! Please resist the urge to add more pasta to stretch the recipe. You need a lot of sauce with that pasta. As this is baked after both the pasta and sauce is cooked the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid while baking. If you want a cheesier Mac and Cheese sprinkle more in between layers of pasta and on top - do not add extra cheese to the sauce as it will change the consistency in a bad way.
Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
(Recipe adapted from Kitchen Treaty)
Serves: 6 - 8
250 grams macaroni or pasta elbows (or pasta of your choice)
1 brown onion, finely diced
150 grams bacon, diced (or more if desired)
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika plus more for sprinkling on top
2 1/2 cups skim milk
3 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
Boil the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and return to the pan you boiled it in. Set aside.
Spray a frying pan with cooking spray. Heat over medium high heat. Add onion and bacon. Cook, stirring, for 5 - 8 minutes or until onion has softened and bacon starting to crisp. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel. Once cooled add to the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour, salt, mustard, pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika. With a wooden spoon or whisk, stir constantly for three minutes.
Add the milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Continue to stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and toss gently until all of the pasta is coated.
Add half the pasta to a large casserole dish (I used a 20cm x 30cm baking dish). Sprinkle on half the cheese. Add the rest of the pasta. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, then dust lightly with the smoked paprika.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the mac and cheese starts getting a slightly dry and a tiny bit brown on top.
Serve or eat straight from the casserole dish LOL.
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)