My Birthday was a couple of weeks ago and to celebrate my husband took me out to eat to our favorite restaurant, J. Alexander's. They have a nice atmosphere, wonderful service and excellant food. Our favorite side dish to order is the NYO Mac and Cheese, it is out of this world good! (The NYO stands for Not Your Ordinary). Everytime we leave there after a dinner, I always promise myself that I will try to make a macaroni and cheese like theirs.........at least try. Well, I finally did! Try, that is. Although it is no NYO Mac and Cheese, this one is pretty good.
I must warn you first.........you will use a few pans and dirty your kitchen. Somethings are worth it though.
I started first by frying some bacon and an onion that I had diced. While the bacon and onion got nice and crispy, I shredded some cheese. This really is the time to buy blocks of cheese and shred your own. Trust me. It goes pretty fast if you have a food processor or this cheese grater from Pampered Chef. I grated a monterey jack cheese and a nice Vermont cheddar. Here is the Vermont cheddar that we are fond of.
After the bacon and onions were crisp,
I scooped them onto a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Then I got a big pot out to cook my pasta. I used a whole wheat rotini but any short cut pasta is fine.
While the water came to a boil and the pasta cooked, I made the cheese sauce. I started off by melting butter in a saucepan and then whisking in flour. After it cooked for a couple minutes, I slowly added in warm milk.
I whisked the mixture until it was thick and smooth and added in the seasonings. I turned the heat off once I could draw a line through the mixture with my finger on the back of a wooden spoon.
I then stirred in all of my cheese and drained the pasta once it was tender. I then stirred the pasta, cheese sauce and bacon all together. If you wanted, it could be done at this point. Its really creamy and good.
But I like my mac and cheese baked and I wanted to add a third cheese. So, I spread it into a baking dish and sprinkled it with grated parmesan cheese and put it in the oven to bake.
When it came out it was all bubbly, brown, and had a crunchy cheesey crust.
How good does that look?! Tender pasta, creamy cheese sauce, crisp onions and crunchy bacon! Yum!
Three Cheese Macaroni with Bacon
6 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
12 oz vermont cheddar cheese
8 oz monterey jack cheese
4 cups milk
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp salt plus some for pasta water
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 pound short cut pasta
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Fry bacon and onion together until crisp. Drain on paper towel lined plate. While bacon and onion fry, shred cheddar and monterey jack cheeses. Set cheese and bacon both aside. Set a large pot with salted water over high heat. When water boils, add pasta and cook until tender. Meanwhile, melt butter in a sauce pan and add in flour. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes while whisking and place milk in microwave to warm for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk that has been warmed into flour and butter mixture. Stir in salt, pepper and chili powder. Mixture is thick enough when a line can be drawn with a finger through the mixture on the back off a wooden spoon. Turn off heat. Slowly stir in cheddar and monterey jack cheeses and whisk till combined and mixture is smooth. Cheese sauce will be very thick. Stir together drained pasta, cheese sauce and bacon. Spread into a 13x9 baking dish and sprinkle top with parmesan cheese. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.