Mac and cheese. Is there any other more comforting food in this world? Anything that sticks to your ribs in the best of ways leaving you feeling filled and content with life?
For a lot of people mac and cheese is something they grew up with, which means now that they’re older, it conjures up feeling of being at home, or possibly times when mom was gone and dad whipped out the blue box. To be honest, I really didn’t have mac and cheese just all that much growing up. Sure, the occasional batch was made on special occasions, maybe Thanksgiving rolled around and we decided to mix up the sides, but other than that I grew up on different comfort foods. Lasagna was one of my favorites and every time that was made it was a special occasion. Chicken fried steak was always big, because who doesn’t like fried steak with gravy alongside buttery mashed potatoes?
But all of that time I felt like…. I was missing something. Mac and cheese.
Growing up, if I had my way, I would have lived off of cereal, ice cream, and anything filled with carbs and cheese. Pizza? I devoured it. Nachos? That was my dream.
And now I realize why I was the fat kid.
Back to the mac and cheese now, sure, I didn’t have it much growing up but that just leaves more room for me to eat it now! The thing about mac and cheese these days though is that for me, it’s kind of a lottery with the flavors. I’m too cheap to go out and pay $7 each on 3 chunks of cheese plus truffle oil and all of the other fancy flavors that make mac and cheese “grown up” and exceptionally amazing. I use what I have. Do I have a couple of ounces of gruyere, 1 lb of cheddar, and 4 ounces of mozzarella? I’ll use it. Is there leftover bacon in the fridge? Throw it in!
Be creative. It’s mac and cheese, it’s meant to be enjoyed and not have a stuck up snobberish feel to it.
Macaroni and Cheese
(Recipe by Sarah Eats Austin)
1 lb elbow macaroni, al dente
4 slices bacon
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbls butter
4 tbls flour
1 1/2 cups-ish half and half
1/2 cup-ish milk
1/2 lb good quality swiss cheese, grated
1/2 lb pecorino romano cheese, grated plus more for sprinkling on top
paprika, to taste
white pepper, to taste
ground nutmeg, to taste
chopped parsley for garnish
Cook bacon in a large saute pan to render off the fat. Once cooked, remove bacon and set aside. Add in the shallots and saute for one minute. Next add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add in the butter and let melt, before adding the flour. Switch to a whisk and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes to cook out the flour. Next, pour in the half and half and milk, whilst whisking, and stir out all of the lumps until smooth.
Simmer until thickened, then turn off the heat, and add the cheese a little at a time until fully incorporated.
Season to taste.
Add the cooked pasta and stir until evenly coated. Top with extra cheese and bacon and broil until golden and bubbly on top.
Garnish with fresh parsley and eat!