I’ve really been trying to eat healthier lately – honestly, I have. As well, my wife and I have just added some new equipment to our arsenal of ways to get/keep fit: bikes. She picked up a brand new one this past week from Canadian Tire, and while I’ve been on the hunt for a comparable model, I’ve been borrowing my brother-in-law’s. Sadly, I think I may be falling into a “guy-iet” sort of situation.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term (which is understandable as I don’t think it’s fully recognized as an actual term anyways), a “guy-iet” is about balancing the good with the bad. A half-hour jog means you can have the last of that ice cream sitting in the freezer; an hour at the gym justifies the wings and beer from the night before; or, in my case, a 16km bike ride one day means I can indulge in this amazing mac and cheese the next.
Don’t get me wrong – I see plenty of value in a guy-iet. In fact, it’s eventually the sort of rhythm that I’d like to fall into with my exercise and eating habits – just not right now. Right now, I need a bit more of the good, and a little less of the bad. I need a long bike ride coupled with some refreshing watermelon and a few carrots, not cheese and bacon deliciousness. Actually, what I really, truly need, is for this White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon to not have been so damn delicious!
Seriously, I think I may need to adjust the recipe and add in an extra step for my own benefit, something like: “After tossing the macaroni in the oven, hop on the bike and do a 5km loop through the neighbourhood”. Until then, here’s the non-adjusted recipe, which I adapted from the very simply named “Cookbook” by Betty Crocker.
White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus extra for cooking the pasta
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups milk
- 200g extra old white cheddar, grated (I used Black Diamond)
- 8 strips bacon, cooked relatively crispy and diced
- ~ 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- Frank’s Red Hot, for serving (optional)
- Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the package (don’t forget to add salt). When the pasta is finished cooking, strain out the water, rinse the pasta thoroughly in cold water, and strain again (this will help stop the cooking process). You should be aiming for slightly tender pasta (not al dente, but not mushy). Set aside until needed.
- At the same time, get started on the sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, and while that’s happening, mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl (the flour, salt, pepper, and mustard). When the butter is melted, add the dry mix and the Worcestershire sauce and whisk until well-combined (you’re essentially making a roux with a few additions).
- Continue to whisk the roux over heat until it is smooth and bubbling. Remove from heat to add the milk, whisk until well combined, then return to the stovetop. Increase the heat to medium-high, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute – the sauce should thicken in this time (you’ll end up with what’s essentially a béchamel sauce).
- Add in the grated cheese and stir until all the cheese is melted and it’s been well-incorporated into the sauce, resulting in a sort of Mornay sauce.
- One the pasta is cooked and resting, and the sauce is ready, combine the two, along with the about 85% of the bacon, into a large pot. Mix well, then pour the mixture into a 2+ quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs overtop (the shallower the dish, the more you’ll need), along with the remaining bacon.
- Place casserole dish in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees, and bake uncovered for about 25 minutes.
- When serving, avoid the temptation to put ketchup on top – it’s not necessary with this mac and cheese, though a little Frank’s Red Hot is suggested for those who like a bit of spice.
Okay, before we get to the pictures, I should admit that I made the meal a bit healthier with the addition of a Chickpea, Avocado and Goat Cheese Feta Salad – dinner wasn’t just a huge slab of noodles, cheese, and bacon. It turned out quite delicious as well, so I’ll be posting it next.
******* (Updated 07/04/2015 with new pictures) *********
I promised myself I would wait until at least a week had passed before making this recipe again…but then my photo was rejected by my favourite food photo website. This is too good of a dish to not be shared with the masses (and right now, getting on that site is the best way to get it out there), so I had to try again. I guess I could have still waited that week before retrying, but I’m not the patience type – more so the OCD type, actually. So, here are my round two pics, hopefully even more tantalizing than the last: