Prep 0 mins
Cook 45 mins
My kids, like most, love macaroni and cheese. The trick for me is trying to keep it different and adult enough to satisfy more than just the kiddos. I came up with this recipe because my oldest loves cheeseburger mac and my husband thinks anything is better with bacon (hey he ain’t wrong!) If you like a little more heat you can leave the ribs on one of the jalapenos or toss a little cayenne in with the paprika. We love heat but the kids aren’t fans so I tend to try to keep things on the milder side. You know your tastes so don’t be afraid to bump up the heat if you like. You can also use some Monterey jack or pepper jack to top the dish with instead of the additional cheddar, which I probably would have done myself if I had some in the house. Be sure not to over cook your pasta. Since it is going into the oven you want to be sure that it is al dente. If you like it a tad firmer you can stop just short of al dente and your noodles will be firmer in the end. I usually try to let it set for 10 minutes once I pull it out of the oven just to let it set up but if you are hungry it tastes the same right out of the oven!
- 6 slices bacon, finely diced, rendered fat reserved
- 1 lb ground beef
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 jalapenos, ribs and seed removed, minced
- 1⁄2 cup flour
- 4 cups milk, warmed
- 5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (roughly 18 ounces)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 lb macaroni, cooked until al dente
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat cook the bacon until crisp and it renders its fat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour the bacon grease into a heat safe bowl or cup.
- Return 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings back to the skillet. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat, until no longer pink. Remove the meat to a colander to drain.
- Add 4 tablespoons of bacon grease and 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet (if you run out of bacon drippings substitute butter.) Add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Toss the garlic, paprika, and jalapenos to the skillet. Return the cooked ground beef to the pan. Add the flour and stir until onion and meat is coated and reduce the heat to low. Pour in the milk slowly, whisking continuously, until it is mixed in well. Let the mixture come to a simmer.
- Once the liquid comes to a simmer, turn off the heat, and add 4 cups of cheese a handful at a time (be sure to save the remaining cup of cheese for the top.) Be sure to make sure each handful is melted in before adding another handful. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce until combined then pour into a 9×13 casserole dish.
- For the topping combine the panko bread crumbs, crisped bacon, dried parsley, 2 tablespoons reserve bacon fat or 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss together until combined well.
- Smooth the top of the cheese and macaroni mixture, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of cheese, and then evenly sprinkle the top with the bread crumb and bacon mixture. Place in the oven and cook for 35 minutes, until the top is browned and the mixture is bubbling.
What a lovely recipe! Although it was not what I expected this was a good, solid recipe and I look forward to tweaking it in the future to make it suit my family's tastes. The next time I make it I plan to double the bacon, half the breadcrumbs, add more cheese and go 50/50 between burger & spicy sausage.<br/><br/>Also, the leftovers are fantastic & filling.