Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bacon and broccoli mac and cheese

The Kitchen Witch is SO happy fall is here!  Food is always better in the fall; slow braises, oven baked casseroles, yes, this is when comfort food reigns king.  Speaking of comfort food, did you read the title of this one?  Bacon mac & cheese??  Yes, I'm serious.  And dude, it's goooooood!!  There's an unholy amount of cheese in this recipe, which only compliments the pound of bacon that's in it.  I said it was comfort food.  Not healthy food!

The smokey bacon enhances the sharp cheddar, Parmesan adds it's strong flavors as background support, cream cheese makes it velvety smooth, feta adds bites of sharp salty goodness.  Broccoli is only made better by cheese so it's a natural in this dish.  The bacon makes a return appearance in the crumb topping which is delicately herbed and provides a nice crunch to the soft texture of pasta in cheese sauce.


Bacon and broccoli mac and cheese
makes about 6 dinner size portions, 10-12 side dish size portions
1 package bacon, sliced into small pieces, cooked crisp, reserve fat
1 head broccoli florettes cut into very small pieces
1-2 T fine minced onions
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c feta cheese
4 cups milk
1/4 c reserved bacon fat
1/2 c flour
1 lb shell pasta cooked al dente (use your favorite shape!)
3 slices bread OR1/2 sleeve butter crackers, crushed to crumbs
3/4 t thyme
pinch paprika
kosher salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cook bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan and set aside.  Reserve about 1/4 c bacon bits for topping.

In the bacon fat sautee the onions until they start to brown and caramelize, about 2 minutes.  When onions are at desired brownness add the  flour and whisk to incorporate.  Stir flour roux over medium to medium high heat until slightly browned and toasty smelling.  Slowly whisk in the milk, sauce may clump at first, keep whisking and slowly adding milk, it'll work itself out.  Bring sauce to a simmer, cook for 2-3 minutes stirring very frequently to avoid scorch spots.

Remove from heat, add the cheddar, cream and parmesan cheeses, stirring until melted.

While cheese sauce is cooking cook pasta.  When there's about 4 minutes left in the cooking add the broccoli to the pasta water.  Cook pasta according to manufactures instruction until pasta is al dente.  Drain well and add cooked pasta and broccoli to the cheese sauce, stir well then add feta cheese and bacon, mix to combine.

Pour into a sprayed casserole dish.  This will really fill up the dish so I'd recommend putting the dish on a baking sheet to catch any spill overs.

Make crumb topping by combining the crackers or bread with the thyme, paprika, a pinch of salt & pepper in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until you have medium size crumbs.  Add the reserved bacon bits, pulse a few more times to chop bacon & distribute the bacon's fat to the crumbs.

Top the casserole with bacon crumbs and bake for 20-30 min or until crumbs are toasted and cheese is bubbling on the sides.

Nutrition Facts calculated at SparkPeople recipe calculator 6 meal size servings Amount Per Serving Calories 1,013.2 Total Fat 53.5 g Saturated Fat 30.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat 3.1 g Monounsaturated Fat 17.0 g Cholesterol 174.6 mg Sodium 1,620.4 mg Potassium 851.2 mg Total Carbohydrate 87.5 g Dietary Fiber 5.2 g Sugars 7.7 g Protein 47.5 g

6 comments:

Yenta Mary said...

Oooooooh! Sneak a little bit of vegetable in there, and this DOES become health food! Look at all that protein, all that calcium! Better have seconds, to be sure you get enough nutrition ... :)

Pegasuslegend said...

Yum with a CAPITAL Y for sure!!!! WOWZER!

Jenn said...

I almost ran away when I saw broccoli.. but alas.. the bacon held me and there was no turning back :) LOVE this recipe... and I'm glad fall is here too if it brings you back to sharing such delicious recipes with us!!!

Big Dude said...

Looks awesome Andrea and hey, with broccoli it must be health food.

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

I'm with you - Fall is the best for cooking! and this is a stunner!! I've bookmarked this recipe and my girls will thank you !
Mary x

Catherine said...

Dear Andrea, A delicious mac and cheese. Blessings, Catherine xo

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