Mac and Cheese, or Macaroni and Cheese is the most cooked cheese-based recipe in United States :-D but the first known Macaroni and Cheese recipe comes from Italy and was published in the .. thirteenth century!
Mac and Cheese recipe can vary a lot, from simple layers of pasta and cheese baked in the oven to complex dishes with lots of ingredients. The recipe below is classic Mac and Cheese, with crispy bacon bites and baked in the oven with a creamy & rich cheese sauce.
At the end of recipe: some tips and variations, as usually!
Mac and Cheese Recipe
...with crispy bacon, cheddar, parmigiano and mozzarella cheese
Mac and Cheese Recipe
| ...with crispy bacon, cheddar, parmigiano and mozzarella cheese|
| || |
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Mac and Cheese Recipe Instructions
Preparing the bacon
Preheat the oven to 200 celsius degrees or 400 fahrenheit degrees
Slice the bacon if it isn't already sliced
Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and lay down the bacon slices with enough space between them
Bake the bacon on the lowest rack in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until they *just start* to crisp
Take the bacon slices out of the oven and dry them on paper towels, then chop to bite size pieces and set aside
Boiling the pasta
In a tall pot boil enough water to cover the pasta (let's say 2 liters / 2 quarts). Add *at least* one half of a tablespoon of salt in the water
Add the pasta and boil for 5 minutes
Keep 1 cup of pasta water just in case, then drain and rinse the pasta with cold water without tossing it too much (just let the pasta stay in cold water for a while then drain again). Set aside and move on with the next section:
Cooking the cheese sauce
Chop the spices (rosemary, thyme and basil) and mince the garlic; you may also ground the pepper in a small bowl - we'll use them soon!
In a large pan melt the butter over medium heat until it starts to sizzle and foam
Add the flour and whisk hard until smooth and all lumps are gone
Let it cook for about one minute or more, add one cup of half and half and continue to whisk until smooth
Slowly add the rest of the half and half while whisking
Then add the rosemary, thyme and salt, the black pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and garlic and mix well in the cheese sauce
Taste the Mac and Cheese sauce (carefully! it is hot!) and adjust the seasoning as needed
Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer the sauce whisking continuously until it thickens enough to form a layer of sauce on the spoon when tested
Shred in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Cheddar cheeses and stir lightly until is melted and smooth
Assembling the Mac and Cheese
Combine the hot sauce with the boiled & chilled pasta in a large bowl and fold gently until all pasta are well coated with sauce. If the mixture is too thick add a little pasta water saved before
Add in the basil and the green onion and stop folding
Lightly grease a large enough baking tray and pour in half of the Mac and Cheese mixture
Grate half of the mozzarella cheese evenly over the mixture and pour in the rest of the Mac and Cheese mixture
Grate the rest of the mozzarella evenly on top and sprinkle the bacon on top of the Mac and Cheese mixture in the tray
Baking the Mac and Cheese
Bake the Mac and Cheese in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 celsius degrees / 400 fahrenheit degrees
When it is golden-brown on top and bubbling all over take the Mac and Cheese out of the oven and *let it cool for at least 10 minutes*
Mac and Cheese Recipe Tips & Tricks
The most important tip for cooking Mac and Cheese is to keep a cup or two of starchy pasta water on hand while making the cheese sauce. The melted cheese can get hard at any time while cooling - just add a few spoons of pasta water to make it creamy again.
If you like some crunchy texture just sprinkle some breadcrumbs or crushed crackers on top of Mac and Cheese before baking them in the oven.
The boiling time for pasta depends on your pasta type but remember to boil the pasta "al dente", 1-2 minutes under the time recommended on the package as the pasta will cook further in the oven.
As variations feel free to experiment combining other cheese types. Suggestions? Sure: try Gruyere, Emmental or any other sharp flavoured cheese you can get and Gouda or Provolone for the mild one. Grate some Pecorino instead of Parmigiano ... This is also true for bacon: try italian pancetta or mortadella for a different taste or a turkey bacon which is lower on fat content; then use some low fat cheddar and low fat evaporated milk and get a low calorie Mac and Cheese like this one.
Or, to be really *sweet* cooking turn your Mac and Cheese into a desert with this delicious and original recipe!