Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fancy Pants Mac and Cheese

I've been eyeing this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website since it was posted. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/12/fancy-macaroni/ 
I printed out the recipe and took it to the store like a good little wanna be chef in training because I typically follow the recipe pretty closely the first time I make it. However, after pricing the cheeses listed I folded that sucker up and put it in my purse for a day that I felt a little richer. It's been kind of haunting me though. For weeks. I love mac and cheese as long as it doesn't come out of that box...just sayin'. {shudder} So, after much pondering of the contents of my fridge and a last minute call to my neighbor so she could ponder the contents of her fridge I decided to embark upon my own Fancy Pants Mac and Cheese Adventure.

Honestly, it turned out VERY good. Everyone liked it, the whole pan was almost gone after only one meal! The leftovers weren't as great so if you aren't planning on eating a bunch halving the recipe is a good plan. We really like the combination of the peppered bacon (thanks Jen!!) and the Pepper Jack cheese. It gave it a little extra zing that you don't typically find in mac and cheese and it beat that stuff out of the box hands down, no contest.

Fancy Pants Mac and Cheese
Servings 8

1 box macaroni, whatever shape
2 onions halved and sliced thin
1/2 lb peppered bacon, cut into small pieces
1 T. ish reserved bacon grease (come on, admit it, I'm not the only one that saves it in the fridge...)
1/4 c. flour
2 1/2 c. milk (this would be better with some half and half or cream)
2 whole egg yolks beaten (probably could skip this without too much trauma)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. pepper jack cheese shredded
2/3 c. Italian cheese blend (I just used what I had in the fridge)
2/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook macaroni for approx 2/3 of the recommended cooking time. Drain and set aside.
  3. Fry bacon just until crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Reserve grease.
  4. Melt 3 T butter and 1 T. bacon grease or olive oil in skillet and saute onions over medium low heat for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and soft. Really, don't rush this step, it's worth the extra couple of minutes to do it right. Set aside.
  5. Melt 4 T butter with 1 T. bacon grease in pot. Sprinkle in flour and whisk together. Cook stirring constantly for about a minute (it will kind of turn a golden color). Pour in milk, cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until thick. Reduce heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Beat egg yolks and drizzle 1/4 cup hot mixture into the yolks stirring constantly. Stir until combined.Pour egg mixture into the sauce and cook for another minute.
  7. Add cheeses and stir until melted.
  8. Combine with onions, most of the bacon pieces and macaroni. Stir until everything is mixed well and turn into a sprayed casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining bacon on top.
  9. Bake for 20 minute or until sizzling and bubbly.

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