Monday, December 6, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Sage Breadcrumbs

Macaroni and Cheese

This, my friends, may go down in history as one of the best macaroni and cheeses I've made to date.

Not kidding.

It all started with a serious craving for macaroni and cheese. Then, I was thinking how awesome it would be to put crumbled bacon in my macaroni and cheese.

In fact, that's what went on my meal plan this week — Macaroni and Cheese w/ Bacon. I figured I'd cook up some bacon, stir it into a basic roux based cheese sauce, top with some dried breadcrumbs and call it a day.

Then, inspiration struck. Later in the week I have Tilapia with Mashed Yams and Bacon Sage Breadcrumbs on the menu. I've made it once before and I remember LOVING the breadcrumbs. They were lick the plate good.

So, wouldn't it be great to top with macaroni and cheese WITH the Bacon Sage Breadcrumbs? Yes, it would.

I made the bacon, used the bacon drippings to toast up the sage and fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs, then stirred the bacon into the macaroni and cheese as planned and topped it with the sage breadcrumbs.

It was pretty much over the top deliciousness.

And get this — it's actually pretty healthy! It's still not exactly a low calorie dish, but I used low fat cheese, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, 1% milk and center cut bacon to make it a better-for-you splurge.

Then, so I wasn't tempted to dig into the second serving, I baked it in individual ramekins. But, if you have willpower of steel, go ahead and bake it in one casserole dish.

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Sage Breadcrumbs
Inspired by Bon Appetit
Serves 2

For the macaroni and cheese:
4 oz. short cut pasta (mine was a mix of medium shells and whole wheat penne)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup of any good melting cheese, shredded (I used half 2% cheddar and half swiss)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper

For the breadcrumbs:
2 slices center cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from whole wheat bread pulsed in a food processor
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

Preheat the oven to 350° and bring a large pot of water to boil.

Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta just short of al dente, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, crisp up the bacon in a small skillet over medium heat. Once crisp, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Add the breadcrumbs and sage to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs start to toast up - about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them though! They burn easily. When done, remove from pan and set aside.

In the pot you made the pasta in, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Then, stir in the flour, whisking to combine completely. Let cook for a minute or two, but don't let it darken. Gradually stir in the milk, whisking to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until it thickens up (mine took a minute or two.. it thickened up really fast!), then add the cheese stir and until just melted. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

Then, add the reserved pasta and bacon crumbles to the cheese, stirring to mix everything up. Divide the macaroni and cheese between two 8 oz. ramekins and top with the reserved breadcrumbs.

Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the cheese is warm and bubbly and the crumbs are crispy — about 15 to 20 minutes.


Simply Life said...

oh my gosh, that looks so good!

foodies at home said...

Yum Yum Yum Yum...I don't even know what else to day! AMAZING!

Lauren (Healthy Delicious) said...