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Cook2 hrs 10 mins
You would expect Chef Achatz’s macaroni and cheese to have some chef tricks, but it doesn’t. He uses a white sauce, elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese, just like the rest of us. His personal touch: a tablespoon of paprika (to enhance the color of the sauce) and lots of smoky, crisp bacon bits. We love this recipe, which we tried out on resident's to see if they liked the pasta and cheese sauce. Have tweaked it a bit! F&W Magazine, 12/06 edition, From "Comfort Food from a Rebel Chef."
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 ounces thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1⁄4 teaspoon oregano (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1 lb elbow macaroni (we used the penne) or 1 lb penne pasta (we used the penne)
- 5 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- salt, to taste
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter.
- Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 7 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper toweled plate.
- Add the onion and bay leaves to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the paprika, oregano, garlic and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the flour until blended.
- Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, and cook until thickened.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce gently for 30 minutes, whisking frequently.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add the macaroni or penne and boil until pliable but undercooked, about 4 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- Stir 4 cups of the cheddar into the hot sauce, add the bacon and season with salt, black pepper(as needed) and a pinch of crushed red pepper(as needed).
- Add the sauce to the pasta and mix well.
- Spread the mac and cheese in the prepared baking dish and scatter the remaining 1 cup of cheddar on top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.
- Let stand for 10 minutes before serving with a baby spinach salad w/a vinaigrette dressing, crusty rustic bread and a Brunello di Montalcino from southern Tuscany.
- **The assembled mac and cheese can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.