Well, our first major holiday during the pandemic is nearly over and I hope everyone is safe and well. I thought that maybe this was our second holiday, considering the pandemic was on the rise during Valentine’s Day but, I believe we were still in “discovery mode” during that time. The virus was mostly abroad and we only had a few cases reported in the United States. It’s amazing how quickly our perception changed.
Churches are not having services, which is very odd, especially during a religious holiday. Many families are separated from each other and there are unfilled seats at our dinner tables. I’m thankful for our phones and the internet because we still have the ability to reach out to those we love.
But, enough of all that. This is a food blog. Let’s dig in.
I am fortunate that my daughter was available to help make this dish. She’s a mac and cheese aficionado and I was thrilled to have her on my team!
This is a variation of the recipe I posted several months ago. If you want to see the original post, click here. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of dry macaroni noodles and I only had 1 ¾ cups this time, so I scaled some of the other ingredients down accordingly and made a few substations.
Easter Mac and Cheese
3 strips thinly sliced bacon
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ¾ cups elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter
2 tsp bacon fat
¼ cup flour
3 ½ cups whole milk
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz queso Chihuahua (white Mexican cheese), grated
Cut the 3 slices of raw bacon into 2” pieces with a sharp knife. Add the bacon pieces to a small frying pan. Crowding the pan is recommended because the bacon needs to be cooked at the lowest heat setting and the resulting bacon fat will help regulate the temperature. Frying the bacon at low heat will help ensure that the bacon and the bacon fat does not burn.
Add freshly ground black pepper to the bacon. I probably used between ¼ and ½ teaspoons. The pepper will flavor the bacon and the fat that it produces.
Remove the bacon once it has become firm. Set aside. Reserve the fat for later.
Boil the elbow macaroni in a large pot of water.
While the macaroni boils, heat the milk in a microwave oven for about a minute or two. The goal is to warm the milk to about 120°, or just a little hotter than bath water. Set the milk aside.
Strain the macaroni after it has become soft. Leave the macaroni in a colander and reserve at least 1/3 cup of the starchy water.
In the same large pot, now empty, add the butter and bacon fat. Set the heat to low and simmer for a minute.
Add the flour and whisk, to form a roux.
Slowly add warm milk, while whisking. Turn the heat to medium high and keep whisking for a few minutes while the sauce thickens.
Add the Tabasco sauce and mustard. Whisk to incorporate. Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat to low.
Slowly add the grated cheese. Stir slowly, with a spatula, as the cheese is added.
When the cheese has melted, add the macaroni and fold, to coat the macaroni.
Pour the mac and cheese in an oven-proof backing dish and bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it starts to bubble.
Remove from the oven and top with crumbled bacon.
Serve with love!