Bacon Mac & Cheese
An easier take on homemade macaroni and cheese. By using the starchy pasta water we do not have make a roux to thicken the sauce. This is the same technique used in Cacio e Pepe. The bacon and onion require just a little extra work and give this a much deeper flavor.
- Some bacon
- Some onion
- Some pasta
- Some cheese
- A dollop of mayonnaise
- A dollop of spicy brown mustard
- A few drops of hot sauce
- In a pot bring lightly salted water to a boil.
- Do not add to much salt. We will put some of this water in the sauce.
- Add pasta and cook until al dente.
- Remove pasta from water but save the water.
- We need the pasta water for making the sauce.
- Cook bacon bits in a stainless or enameled pot until crispy.
- The stainless or enameled surface helps build a fond for extra flavor.
- Remove bacon and place on paper towel.
- Bacon will get crispier as it cools and the fat drains off of it.
- Do not leave it in. I did the first time I made this. When making the sauce it got soggy and lost its crisp.
- Leave in enough of the bacon fat to saute some onion.
- You may get to much fat from the bacon and need to remove some.
- Do not dump all of the fat! Do not clean the pan! That's flavor in there.
- Saute some onion.
- Add a spoon full of pasta water and deglaze the pot.
- Add just enough to cover the bottom. It's easier to deglaze if you start small.
- Use pasta water here because the starches from the pasta can replace the traditional roux.
- Turn off heat.
- Cooking cheese at too high of a temperature causes it to become rubbery and separate from the sauce.
- Whisk in cheese and pasta water to make a creamy sauce.
- Be careful to balance the amount of cheese and pasta water to get your desired consistency.
- It is much easier to put the cheese in first and then mix the water in a little bit at a time. It is hard to mix things that have different viscosities.
- Add mayonnaise, spicy brown mustard, and a little hot sauce.
- All of these are mainly for augmenting the flavor. Skip them or replace them if you like.
- Go easy on the mayo. It can quickly make this way to rich.
- Even if you do not like hot food, you should still try adding hot sauce. A teeny tiny amount of hotness can make the other flavors taste more lively even if you can't taste the hotness it self.
- Add pasta and stir to coat.
- Dish out and top with bacon bits.