Chipotle Cheddar Bacon Mac

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The Scoop:

It snowed yesterday.  And by snowed I mean that it lightly spit snow as I walked to my car in the morning but that was still too much for me.  Which is funny because I originally hail from the land of 14 inches of snow [helllllo lake effect] so a dusting is really nothing that should faze me.  It wasn’t the snow per se, that bothered me.  Its more what the snow represents: the coming of winter, the running outside on sheets of ice, the frigid winds, and worst of all, the scraping off of my car IN THE DARK every single morning before I can leave for work.  If there is one thing in my entire life that I never ever want to do again, it is stand outside on a freezing cold and windy morning, in the DARK, wearing a skirt and tights and flats, and SCRAPE ice and snow off my windshield while little bits of winter debris get stuck in my shoes. [#firstworldproblem] Never ever again.

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You see, growing up I was spoiled.  My dad was a teacher at my highschool [not as bad as it sounds] and I road to school with him every morning.  While I was eating breakfast he would go outside, scrape off the truck, start the engine, and crank the heat.  When it was time to leave, the car was toasty warm and waiting in the driveway.  On a slippery day he would even carry my backpack for me.

Sometimes I wish I was married just so I had someone to take care of the car scraping/starting issue for me. [not true but kind of true]

cropped6In good November news though, my new winter coat arrived on my doorstep while I was at work yesterday.  Just in time too, because although it didn’t snow today, it was a full 10 degrees colder than yesterday, the day that it was cold enough to snow.  In even better news, I ordered my coat off of Groupon, which was a bit of a gamble because Groupon is a weird place to order outerwear, but the price was right, and it turned out to be a great investment because it fits perfectly and is super cute.  And in the best news of all, since winter is coming and we all just want to eat comfort food every minute of every day, I have a new mac and cheese recipe for you.

Chipotle Cheddar Bacon Mac to be exact.  Its everything I dream about in one perfect, steaming, creamy, flavor packed dish.  The chipotle in adobo kicks up the flavor just enough, but is balanced out by the sharp cheddar to keep things from getting too spicy.  And the bacon?  Oh the bacon.  Let’s be honest, everything tastes better with bacon.  Am I right, or am I right?  I like my mac n cheese baked, so I make it extra saucy on the stove top before transferring it to the baking dish to keep it from drying out in the oven.  This results in the perfect crunchy top/creamy center combo.  This is the kind of stuff that makes winter ok.

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The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb macaroni noodles (I actually used small shells this time)
  • 1 pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo**
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

  • 8 inch square baking dish
  • Food processor or blender

**I buy Goya brand for my chipotles in adobo and find them in the international aisle of my local grocery store.

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The Deets:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and boil a salted pot of water for the pasta.  Cook the pasta until done, but still firm to the bite, as it will continue cooking later in the oven.  Drain the pasta and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, combine a chipotle pepper and 1 cup of milk in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times, and then run the processor until the pepper has been completely combined with the milk.  Pour the pepper/milk mixtures into a large bowl and whisk together with an additional two cups of milk.

Meanwhile, you can be cooking the 6 oz of chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat on the stove top until crispy.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the grease and set it aside to drain on a paper towel, leaving the grease in the pan.

Use a large spoon to remove and discard a couple tablespoons of bacon grease, then add the 1/2 cup of flour to the remaining bacon grease in the pan and stir continuously with a metal whisk for one minute to make a roux.  Slowly pour the milk/pepper mixture into the pan with the roux, whisking continuously to combine.  Continue whisking the sauce for about 5 minutes or until it thickens considerably.  Add half of the cheese, whisking until incorporated, and then add the remaining cheese and whisk until the sauce is smooth.

Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and toss gently with a wooden spoon until the noodles are evenly coated.  Transfer the mac n cheese to a greased 8 inch square baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes.  Top with the prepared bacon bits immediately after removing from the oven.

Personally I love mac n cheese as  a make ahead dish.  I prepare the entire casserole a day ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator over night, that way it is read to pop in the oven when I get home from work.  Just keep in mind that you’ll need to increase the baking time to 45 minutes for pre-made mac n cheese.

Chipotle Cheddar Bacon Mac makes a great side dish for my Southwest Smothered Pork Chops if you are looking for a complete meal!

cropped6The Inspiration:

My mom’s classic mac n cheese recipe.

Looking for another great mac n cheese recipe?  Try these Bacon Broccoli Shells that I made last year for Easter.

cropped10Winter deserves this.

XOXO,

Tall  One

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