Thursday, April 11

Whole Grain Bacon Mac & Cheese

Recently I came across a some mac and cheese recipes. Being a cheese lover, I made one and it was awesome (see Cauliflower Mac & Cheese). It was borderline healthy, easy, and kid friendly. But, I was looking for something with a bit more depth. Then I saw this one with fresh crispy bacon chunks, sauteed golden leeks, and two different kinds of cheeses. Yes depth and sophistication is EXACTLY what I found. It was the first grown up mac and cheese dish I had ever had. This would absolutely be appropriate for serving to guests, or on the weekend to your buds. (ppppst) by the way, when i say buds, I do mean friends, neighbors, random people on the street, and your taste buds. This is a must make! My husband actually surprised me by having seconds and asking if was going to make it again. Score!! This will be making second and third appearances in my kitchen. 

The amazing bacon, herb, havarti, sharp cheddar, leek, whole grain mac and cheese

serves 4 adults 

Adapted from Pinch My Salt  (halved the recipe except for a few things like bacon and cheese). I kept the important things. Used more bacon grease but less half and half. 


  • 1/2 lb of bacon
  • 1 leek, light green and white part only, sliced into half moon crescents, rinsed
  • half of a box of whole grain medium shells, approx 5 oz
  • 1 cup (approx 4 oz)  + 1/2 cup sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
  • 3/4th cup (approx 3 oz) creamy hartivi cheese, shredded
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, 2 % or whatever you have
  • 1/2 cup half and half, full fat
  • 1/2 Tbs salt (for pasta water)
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de provence blend, salt free
  • Salt & pepper to taste 

1. Start cooking the bacon, until crisp.

2. Start boiling the pasta water, add salt to it. 

3. When the bacon is cooked, set aside on paper towels to drain some of the fat off
Take the bacon drippings and saute the leeks in the bacon fat over low heat for 7 minutes or until its golden - YUM! :) 

4.Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook as per directions on the box for al dente minus one minute. It will finish in the oven. 

5. Make the béchamel sauce with the butter, flour, and dairy. This is a very easy generic sauce that learned only a couple years ago.  This sauce starts with a small or medium saucepan in which you melt the butter completely over low heat. Then you add the flour and stir it until it looks unappetizing with yellow clumps. Let the flour cook over low heat for about a minute. Stir often. Add the half and half and the milk. Turn the heat up, bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Grab a whisk and a plain spoon. Start whisking every 5 seconds. It takes like maybe 5 minutes. As soon as it starts to look thick like buttermilk type of thick, dip the spoon in. If you can draw a line on the back of a spoon and the line stays there for a second then its ready for the cheese. Remove it from the heat and add half of the shredded sharp cheddar and all of the havarti cheese. Stir the sauce until all the cheese is melted.

6. While you are waiting at the stove for the sauce to thicken, chop your bacon, and boil your pasta, grab a small rectangle or square baking dish, butter your baking dish, and preheat the oven to 375. 

7. When the pasta is done cooking, drain all the water out and return the pasta to the pot. 

8. Combine it all together. Add the sautéed leeks to the pasta.  Pour the béchamel sauce over the leeks and pasta. Add in the chopped bacon.  Stir so everything is coated in cheese. Then pour it into the prepped baking dish. Taste it , add salt and pepper as needed. Top with remaining sharp cheddar cheese. 

9, Bake for 20-25 minutes until its warm and all the cheese is melted. Serve immediately  with veggies or salad to round out the meal - Enjoy!

Today mac & cheese has grown up and taken on some new flavors all from my Az kitchen. 

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