Sunday, September 08, 2013

Spicy Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

What do you do when you're sitting at home, and you're hungry, and you have part of a bag of pepper jack cheese sitting in your fridge staring at you?  And you've just been disappointed by the supposedly "spicy" penne pasta from pinterest?  You make something that's actually full of cheesy spicy goodness.

This recipe is heavily based on the Thomas Keller macaroni and cheese gratin I made a while ago, with the appropriate spicy changes.  The bacon makes a reappearance since it's basically an essential ingredient now, and I have fallen in love with the shape of the cavatappi pasta, so that's here to stay, too.  I'm also too lazy to turn on the oven, so this comes straight out of the saucepan.

Spicy Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
Loosely adapted from Thomas Keller

4 ounces applewood smoked bacon, cut into batons
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces cavatappi, cooked to al dente in salted water
Green onions, sliced, for serving

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Add butter to the bacon fat left in the skillet. Lower the heat to medium. When the butter is melted, add the shallot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shallot is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Sprinkle with the flour. Allow the roux to cook for a minute or two, but do not let it burn or brown. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere's. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to stir until the mixture thickens.

Add the pepper jack and Cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted. Fold in the cooked cavatappi.

Makes 2 to 3 servings

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