It is a wide known fact among our family that you couldn't get Chris to eat macaroni and cheese if it was the last thing on earth. I'm talking about the store bought boxed kind. Now, I know that that stuff isn't the best or healthiest foods ever, but I would certainly not starve if it was the only thing left on earth. Or in my pantry. Ever. Actually, I sometimes eat the stuff. Sue me. :D
My dear husband, though? NO WAY. It is one of those childhood horror food stories that he retells me every time we have anything that looks like pasta, and he swears that he would throw up if I made him try it. Kids in Croatia have to eat soups and vegetables every day! Like spinach and brussel sprouts and leeks!!!!! (love those)
I will and do make million different cheesy pasta dishes that he eats and I victoriously call them mac and cheese every time he finishes eating it and every time I tell him, it's good, I TOLD YOU SO! :D
I do not (say some of those things).
This one in particular is my grown-up gourmet mac and cheese made with beer and bacon and he went back for thirds. Yaaaaaaay!!!!
Beer and Bacon Mac and Cheese
1 package of Barilla Ziti
8 slices of bacon
2 cups of Béchamel sauce*
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup of beer, I used some brown ale I had on hand
1 tsp of dry oregano
salt and pepper
Start by making your bacon crumbles. Bake the slices in the oven for best result. I bake mine on aluminum foil lined baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes on 400 F. Once it cools of just a bit chop it to small pieces to get your bacon crumbles.
Now cook the pasta, but don't cook it all the way, it needs to still have a good bite to it because you will bake it for a few minutes after it is mixed in with the sauce.
While the pasta is cooking prepare your sauce.
about 2 cups of milk (2% or whole is best, even though I often make it with 1% and it is still fine)
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a pot and add flour, mix it for a minute or two and then add heated milk (minus one cup), mix well with a whisk and add salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Cook until it thickens.
Now that you have the Béchamel Sauce ready add to it beer and 1 1/2 cup of cheese and mix until it all melts together. Add the oregano, bacon crumbles and season with salt and pepper. Reserve a few bacon crumbles for garnish if you like. Mix the pasta with the sauce before transferring it to the baking dish.
Butter a baking dish and pour the pasta in it, sprinkle with leftover 1/2 cup of cheese and bake on 450 for 10 to 15 minutes, just so the cheese melts on top.
This looks really good if you bake it in individual serving dishes, you can garnish it with the bacon crumbles or some chives or spring onions. Enjoy!