FOUR CHEESE MACARONI WITH BACON CROUTON CRUST
IngredientsServes 6 to 8
6 slices lean, thick-sliced bacon, sliced into ½-in (1.25 cm) pieces
½ cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, divided, plus extra for greasing
5 to 6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into ½-in (1.25 cm) dice
3 cups (750 ml) grated sharp cheddar, divided
2 cups (500 ml) grated Gruyère cheese, divided
1 cup (250 ml) grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1 lb (500 g) elbow macaroni (or scoobi doo or shells)
6 cups (1.5 L ml) milk
½ cup + 2 tbsp (155 ml) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
¼ tsp (1 ml) ground nutmeg
½ tsp (2.5 ml) pepper
¼ tsp (1 ml) cayenne
1 cup (250 ml) grated Monterey Pepper Jack cheese, divided
- In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add bacon and fry until crispy. Drain on paper towel. Divide bacon in 2 portions and coarsely chop 1 portion to smaller pieces, reserving both separately.
- Heat oven to 375 F (190 C). Grease a 9 x 13-in (3 L) baking dish, casserole or individual baking dishes and set aside.
- Place diced bread in a bowl. Melt 2 tbsp (30 ml) of butter and drizzle over bread, tossing well to coat, set aside. In another bowl, mix together 1 cup (250 ml) grated cheddar, ½ cup (125 ml) Gruyère and ½ cup (125 ml) Pecorino Romano, and mix in with buttered bread and coarsely chopped bacon.
- Cook pasta according to package directions but remove 2 to 3 minutes less than recommended cooking time, until outside is cooked and inside is underdone. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water and drain well. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat milk until scalding. In same pot used for cooking pasta, melt remaining butter over medium heat. When bubbling, whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, pepper, cayenne, Monterey Pepper Jack and remaining 2 cups (500 ml) cheddar, 1½ cups (375 ml) Gruyère and ½ cup (125 ml) Pecorino Romano. Stir until melted and blended then stir in drained pasta and reserved bacon. Mix well.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dishes. Sprinkle reserved bread, cheese and bacon mixture over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool 5 minutes before serving.