The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Bacon Lover’s Mac and Cheese

5.00 Mitt(s) 1 Rating(s)1 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 5

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Level: Intermediate

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Description

With spinach, mushrooms, and of course bacon, this mac and cheese is infused with bacon flavor throughout.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces, weight Pasta Shapes
  • 6 ounces, weight Bacon, Chopped
  • 8 ounces, weight Baby Bella Mushrooms, Sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ cups Flour
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2-½ cups Milk
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 4 ounces, weight Fontina Cheese, Grated
  • 4 ounces, weight White Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 3 cups Baby Spinach Leaves, Chopped

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. (If desired, set aside 2 or 3 tablespoons of the cooked bacon for topping the baked mac and cheese.) Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Return the pan to the heat and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To make the cheese sauce, add the reserved bacon grease to a medium saucepan with the butter. (If there was not enough bacon grease to make 2 tablespoons, replace the missing amount by adding an equal amount of butter.) Heat over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted. Whisk in the flour and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden and fragrant but not burned, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken. Whisk in the salt, red pepper flakes, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Fontina and white cheddar until completely melted and smooth. (If necessary, you can return the pan to low heat to melt the cheeses.)

Return the drained pasta to the pot. Mix in the cooked bacon and mushrooms, the cheese sauce and the chopped spinach. Stir everything together gently until well combined. Spread the mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is light golden and the cheese is bubbling. Serve warm and top with reserved cooked bacon pieces, if desired.

One Comment

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jimmye on 6.3.2011

Ooh my! This looks wonderful! I will definitely give this a try…soon! Thanks for sharing!

One Review

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bethwest on 6.5.2011

This was really good! The only things different I did was add some dry mustard to the cheese sauce, added wine while cooking the mushrooms & mixed a couple of spoonfuls of Hellman’s with the pasta before adding it to the rest. Really good!

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