Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pepperjack Bacon Mac & Cheese

If there was ever any doubt that I truly love my husband - my undying devotion has been proven.

Using a basic (but wonderful) Cooks Illustrated recipe, I have brought together 3 of Mr. Vittles' favorite things into one glorious dish:

  • mac & cheese
  • pepperjack
  • bacon

    And let me just tell you all, this received the prized and coveted eyebrow raise + emphatic "really good" rating from The Man himself.

    In fact, I could barely make out the "really good" part as he was stuffing his face with mouthfuls of this creamy macaroni!

    Ok, listen.  I don't see such reactions often, so allow me just a moment to revel in this achievement.

    To prove its few & far between, the last time I received this level of praise was about a year ago.  I entered a contest for Food Network Magazine's secret ingredient (which, for that particular issue, was coconut) and created an original recipe for a Coconut Kona Ice Cream.

    Which was A-MA-ZING, if I do say so myself.

    More on that soon - don't worry, I'm more than free to share that recipe with you since I got robbed in the contest by some chick with a coconut scone recipe.

    Scones?  Like, seriously... who even eats scones?


    (I dunno, maybe you eat scones.  Sometimes I do too.  The real issue is actually that I was a big ol' loser in said contest, and am clearly still bitter).

    Anyhoo - my point is, Mr. V was loving every second of the coconut-coffee ice cream combo.  Much like when he took a bite of my Pepperjack Bacon Mac & Cheese.

    So enjoy!

    And if you're a wifey like me, you can go make your husband even happier that he married you :)

    Pepperjack Bacon Mac & Cheese
    • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
    • 1 T. salt
    • 3 T. butter
    • 3 T. flour
    • 3/4 t. ground mustard
    • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 t. garlic powder
    • 2 1/2 C. milk
    • 8 oz. pepperjack cheese, grated
    • 8 strips of (cooked) bacon, crumbled or chopped in small pieces
    • 1/2 t. salt
    • 1 C. panko bread crumbs
    Preheat broiler.  Cook elbow macaroni in 4 quarts water with 1 T. salt until tender (just past al dente stage).  Drain macaroni and set aside. 

    In now empty pot, melt butter over medium heat until foaming.

    Add flour, mustard, cayenne & garlic powder and whisk well to combine.  Continue whisking about 1 minute, until fragrant.

    Gradually whisk in milk about a cup at a time, then bring mixture to a boil while whisking constantly.  (This is important - mixture must reach a boil to thicken fully).

    Then reduce heat to medium & simmer, whisking occasionally, until consistency becomes that of heavy cream (about 5 minutes). 

    Remove from heat and whisk in cheese, salt & bacon. Add drained pasta and return whole pot to burner over medium low, stirring mixture until steaming & heated through (5-6 minutes).

    Transfer mixture to a broiler-safe, greased 9x13" pan and sprinkle panko on top.  Place in broiler on middle/lower rack and broil 3-5 minutes until crumbs are browned.

    Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

    Recipe Adapted from Cook's Illustrated's "Classic Macaroni & Cheese"


    1. This looks delish and I can't wait to try it!

    2. I'm very excited to try this for dinner tonight. As a note, the recipe does not include anything about cooking the bacon prior to adding it to the mac and cheese. I'm assuming you intended to have the ingredient list read "8 strips of bacon, cooked, then crumbled or chopped into small pieces". Hope the family loves it, cause I'm hoping to make this one again and again (have a certain love of pepperjack cheese myself!)

      1. This was, hands down, one of my most favorite homemade mac and cheese recipes! I would only change one thing-1 1/2 times the cheese sauce. I love a really creamy, saucy mac and cheese.

      2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Autumn! The original recipe i adapted from had double the sauce, i just don't personally like mine that soupy. But you can definitely increase the sauce to your liking! I also added 'cooked' bacon to the ingredients list so there's no confusion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts & comments!! :)


    I love reading your comments!

    If you have a question or problem you can also feel free to email me at vittlesandbits@gmail.com. Thanks for visiting :)


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