Mac and Cheese
- 3 slices, thick sliced smoked bacon
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tablespoons, plus 1 tablespoon
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half and half (or 1.5 cups of milk)
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles (*optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder (*optional)
- 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
- 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 4 ounces grated extra sharp Vermont cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces grated fontina cheese
- 4 ounces grated gruyere cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh sourdough bread crumbs
Place bacon on baking rack in 400 degree oven.. bake for 15+ minutes or until bacon is crisp. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to remove excess grease. After it cools crumple it into bits and set aside. Adjust oven temp down to 350 degrees.
In a saucepan slowly melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add flour and stir with butter to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half and half a little at a time. Cook until just thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t cook too long or it will get gluey. Remove from the heat, season with the salt, pepper, adobo and about half of the grated parmesan. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Cover and set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste and, while stirring, add the macaroni. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until macaroni is al dente (slightly undercooked). Drain in a colander and return the macaroni to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the garlic and stir to combine. Add the cheese sauce and bacon bits and stir until well combined. Set aside.
Using the remaining tablespoon of butter, grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole and set aside. In a large bowl combine about 4 ounces of the remaining parmesan cheese (you should still have some parmesan left for the topping), cheddar, fontina and gruyere cheeses. Toss to combine.
Layering macaroni: Place one-third of the macaroni in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with one-third of the mixed cheeses then add another third of the macaroni and another third of the cheese mixture to create layers that will melt well. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese mixture. In a food processor, blend sourdough bread to create crumbs. In a small bowl combine the sourdough bread crumbs and remaining parmesan and ancho powder. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. (You may also add sliced heirloom tomatoes to top of macaroni before adding bread crumbs and parmesan) Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and hot and the top is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.