Thursday, February 19, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Bacon

I've been meaning to make this macaroni and cheese for a while, and I finally got around to it last night. Tyler Florence says this is "the only" macaroni and cheese recipe I'll ever need, and while I don't know if that's exactly true, his version of the classic is absolutely delicious. I loved the topping; the smokiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the peas and the sharp bite of the onion worked so well together, and the white cheddar cheese was the perfect compliment. This was just...yummy. There's no better word to describe it. Well, maybe besides comforting.

I changed this recipe up a bit, mostly out of necessity; I had to omit the fresh herbs and garlic cloves because I didn't have them on hand, and I cut the recipe in half so we weren't bogged down with leftovers. The recipe below is the original, which feeds 6 to 8, and my changes are reflected in purple.

The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Bacon
Source: adapted from Tyler's Ultimate

Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni (I used shells)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups warm milk
5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (omitted)

Extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed (I used a sprinkle garlic powder)
Leaves from 1/4 bunch of fresh thyme (I used a few pinches of dried)
2 cups frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming. Gradually whisk in the milk and, whisking vigorously, cook until the mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

4. Meanwhile, heat a 2-count of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the bacon, onion, garlic and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. (I let the bacon go for a while by itself to get crispy.) Fold in the peas and season with salt and pepper.

5. To serve, scatter the pea and bacon mixture over the mac and cheese.


Lisa K said...

I'm eating mac 'n cheese as I read this! But mine came from a box. =)

Donna-FFW said...

Cassie- YOU now I love anyhitng TYLER! How did I miss this gem. I am sooooo going to try this one. It sounds outrageously delicious!!

Courtney said...

this looks delish, i want some now! haha

Donna-FFW said...

Cassie- Ileft you an award, please come pick it up.:)