Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr
From Grant Achatz, Chicago chef
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 (6 ounce) thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 1 lb extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (5 cups)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a 9X13" 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 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 and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant. 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 over high heat. Add the macaroni and boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and boil about 4 minutes. Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot.
- Stir 4 cups of the cheddar into the hot sauce; add the bacon and season with salt. Add the sauce to the macaroni and mix well. Spread the mac and cheese in the baking dish and scatter the remaining 1 cup of cheddar on top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
- The assembled mac and cheese can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Not good as written - I was skeptical about boiling the milk. Rightly so - scalded milk has a horrible pervasive smell and taste. It was inedible. The soupy mix wasted $15 of ingredients and 4 hours of a Sunday afternoon. Call it my mistake for doing something I knew was wrong. Cream sauces should be gently warmed - never boiled. And the proportion of cheese to cream sauce is too low. Maybe half the sauce to the same amount of cheese.
This is really delicious! The sauce is really impressive; it has a lot of flavor. The bay leaves make a great addition to macaroni and cheese. I used 2% milk, and it came out great. Thanks so much for posting the lovely recipe!
Most delicious mac & cheese! Lovely color & taste out of this world! It is a keeper in my ever-growing book of Mooshy Foods for tender Mouths - one that I will make even after I am recovered! I did slip in a bit over a cup of tiny green frozen peas, about a 1/2 cup minced parsley & 1/2 a tomato diced up. Thankyou, KathyP53, for a most wonderful dish! ps - the bacon dice softened nicely while baking in the perrrrfect sauce (most necessary now b/c I can't handle anything CRISPY or CHEWY :( )