Glorious Monday and Bacon, Gruyere and Cheddar Mac N’ Cheese
I know the word glorious and Monday don’t belong together. There are exceptions like having a baby, catching up with a loved one that you haven’t seen in some time, getting a raise, going on vacation…so there are more exceptions than I thought that could happen on a Monday. I could go on but will spare you because you have the idea.
Today is glorious because I feel better after having a head cold that made me want to tear my eyes out or replace my head. I feel like a jerk though after missing my friend’s baby shower. I hear it was great and what made it even better was that her sister flew out to surprise her a few days before. I read there were tears so that must have been amazing. Good job, Bill (her husband) for putting things together!
Also, the weather has been a warm 50 plus degrees and sunny in southern Minnesota, in November, for a few days and it looks like it’s here to stay for a little while longer. I woke up to sun and I wasn’t freezing which starts a day off right in my blood-shot eyes. I enjoyed it so much that I slept in a little (keep in mind I haven’t been feeling well and am not that lazy). I think it’s fair. October wasn’t a pleasant month and I think we deserve a few days of fall.
In a few weeks, my husband and I will celebrate our one year anniversary. One year ago on that day, the weather was 20 degrees and a snow storm was on its way. To have sunshine and 50 degrees this year would be amazing, maybe then our visiting friend will believe us when we say the state has some odd elements. There are only 12 days until he arrives and dishes on his new lady friend. We can’t wait!
I am still prepping for Thanksgiving by trying recipes and I purchased a new roasting pan. I think I will take a break with that today and get out in the sun while it lasts. Winter is on its way and will last about 6 months.
Speaking of our visitor, he loves macaroni and cheese. I found a recipe that had bacon, gruyere, Parmesan and sharp cheddar that sounded like a winner. I knew it had to be good because it won a contest that Emeril Lagasse held in search of the best mac n’ cheese. The creator is Laura Macek, kudos to her! I added a few ingredients and took some out and believe every flavor will suit our friend’s taste. I tried this recipe out on some friends that came over a week or so ago…then my husband had the leftovers for lunch for a week. We both agreed that it tasted even better the next day. If you have time, prepare it a day ahead (minus breadcrumbs) and bake before serving.
Bacon, Gruyere and Cheddar Mac N’ Cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound Cavatappi or elbow pasta (or whatever you like)
½ pound sliced smoked bacon
1 ½ cups fresh white breadcrumbs (pulse bread in food processor)
½ cup grated Parmesan
8 tablespoons butter
1 tsp rosemary, diced-optional
1 tsp thyme, diced-optional
¼ cup minced shallots
½ cup flour
1 quart whole milk
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp smoked paprika-optional
Cook pasta according to directions. Cook bacon and drain on paper towels. Keep bacon fat in pan. Crumble bacon when cool.
Topping: Combine breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, Parmesan, rosemary, thyme and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375. Sauté shallots over low heat in bacon fat for one minute. Add remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and continue to sauté shallots until translucent. Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium while stirring constantly with a whisk and add milk. Cook until sauce is thickened and remove from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, smoked paprika, Gruyere and cheddar. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in pasta and pour into baking dish. Sprinkle topping and cover with foil, bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and topping is brown. I believe that it tastes even better the next day. If you have time, prepare it a day ahead (minus breadcrumbs) and bake before serving.