It’s finally Fall. Time to start a regular rotation of cheesy pans of gooey goodness covered in bread crumbs, bubbling with butter and stuffed with bacon. Oh yes, indeedy, Sweetie. It’s time for more experiments with macaroni and cheese!
You cannot go wrong with sharp cheese, bacon and pasta. Seriously? I think it’s what they are serving in heaven.
1 pound pasta (I used rigatoni)
1/4 pound (4 oz.) bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 red onion, finally chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup flour
3 cups milk (preferably whole and raw!)
12 oz. sharp cheese (your choice!), shredded
4-5 oz. kale, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch (or two) red pepper flakes
salt to taste
1/2 cup panko
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dill
pinch or two of salt
pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9×13 pan.
Cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is boiling, fry the bacon in a saucepan. Remove bacon from pan, leaving all the drippings.
Add the butter to the bacon grease (yes, use the better and the bacon grease! Flavor, baby!). Over medium heat saute the onion and garlic until tender.
Add the flour and cook, stirring, until the flour is a bit toasted. Look for a goldenish color. Keep it moving so it doesn’t burn!
Slowly whisk in the milk.
Reduce heat to low. Add the cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Add the nutmeg, pepper and salt.
Simmer very gently as you add the bacon back to the pan and the kale. Remove from heat.
Mix together the pasta and cheese sauce. Reduce the urge to eat it right then and there. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
In a small bowl mix together all the topping ingredients. When well combined, sprinkle over the pasta and cheese.
Bake for about 15 minutes until the whole mixture is bubbly and irresistible.
(This is a meal that I easily double for the freezer. If you are planning to freeze it, stop before the baking step. You can then use my method (here) for freezing it. To cook, thaw and bake as directed above.)
I’m so sorry that I didn’t get a picture of this! If you make it, snap a pic and send it to us! We’ll be happy to add it to the post and give you credit and a link!