I’ve been lurking on the community-driven website, Food52, for a long time now. I’ve found some wonderful recipes there and have enjoyed the editorial content, but I never participated other than leaving a comment or two. But the other day, I noticed their recipe contest for Your Best Cheap Feast. It was high time I submit my own recipe, even if it was just as an excuse to put it in writing.
I came up with this Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese when I was competing in that All-American Cook-Off with Paula. I was inspired by A Cozy Kitchen’s Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese, but thought bacon and scallions might make it even better. And then at the last second decided, oh what the heck, let’s throw in some smoked paprika too and take the smokiness to the next level. It worked out really well! Even though I didn’t win the actual cook-off, I received many compliments on the mac and cheese.
So if you ever need a simple, inexpensive dish to serve a lot of people, here it is. My Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese. Or if you’re already on Food52, you can save it here. It’s sinfully delicious…just don’t be like me by eating it in place of a balanced meal. I’ve been trying to avoid buying food before I leave for vacation. San Francisco, here I come!
Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese
Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
1 lb package elbow macaroni
5 slices bacon, cut crosswise into small strips
5 scallions, white and green parts chopped and separated
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
8-oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated and divided (about 2 cups)
8-oz smoked gouda cheese, grated and divided (about 2 cups)
Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease an 8 x 11 x 2 baking dish.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until it is browned and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Throw in the white part of the scallions with the bacon for the last 3 minutes of cooking, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Continue whisking while gradually adding the milk one cup at a time. Cook for 5 minutes until thickened. Reduce heat to low and stir in salt, black pepper, and most of the cheese, reserving about a cup of cheese. Once the cheese has melted, remove from heat and stir in the bacon and scallion mixture, as well as the green part of the scallions.
Pour the pasta in the greased baking dish. Spoon the cheese sauce over the pasta, stirring to even out the sauce in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top, then sprinkle the smoked paprika over the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly