Pasta/Noodles/ Pork/ Uncategorized

Bacon Mac & Smoked Swiss Cheese

Decadent Meal Alert: Full Fat, Full Gluten, Full Delicious!

I might have mentioned that whenever I ask my daughter what she wants to eat, for any meal, the answer is always mac and cheese.  Since she just came home from spending 5 days with my sister and all her cousins, I felt I could oblige her request.  Additionally my ex-husband, in a nice gesture, shared several pounds of his smoked Swiss cheese with me.  It’s been days since he brought it by and I now I was finally going to use it in a dish and just stop snacking on it.  (I have several pounds left, so look for more recipes with smoked Swiss cheese.)

Adding bacon seemed like a no-brainer. 

Smoky bacon and smoked Swiss cheese.  Yes, life is good my friends, when these two get together. 

Well, it’s been a busy week and I worked later than I anticipated on a Friday evening, still needing to get some groceries, as I had not been to the market all week, just cooking with pantry staples.  To get dinner done in a reasonable amount of time, at a reasonable hour, I employed the help of everyone.  Jim was putting groceries away, helping me prep by grating cheese.  Schylar was asked to get the bacon in the pan for frying.  My daughter took off to go play at the neighbor’s house while we cooked dinner (yes, that’s a help).  Schylar did as he asked and put the bacon in the pan.  See the picture below. 

When I know I am going  to crumble the bacon, I simply pull it all apart, throw it in a sauce pan, turn the heat on slighty above medium, throw a lid on and occasionally stir it around or flip it over with tongs.  It takes a bit longer to cook, but I had the time and it gets really crispy.  But the most important part, my stove top stays perfectly clean because of the lid.  When it is done, I just pull it out, wrap it in some paper towels to absorb the cooking gold I am not going to use and then I chop it up with my knife.  Easy! I used close to ¾ of a pound when I made the dish.  To one person, there was a bit too much bacon, to another, it could have used a bit more, so to each his own.  You decide the bacon needs of your family and friends. 

Confession: I made this dish two ways.  One baked, one prepared on the stove top.  I loved both.  I loved the crunchy bits on the top and bottom of the ramekin from baking it. But I loved the extra creaminess of the sauce by not being absorbed via the baking process.  It’s a wash for me.  I’ve provided both directions below.

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Bacon in the pan…Thanks Schy!

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In goes the cheese…

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Now bacon is in…

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Elbows added…

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Stovetop version served

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Out of the ramekin…

Directions:

¼ cup shallot; finely diced (about ½ a shallot)

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour

2 cups elbow noodles

2 cups milk

8 oz Smoked Swiss Cheese; grated

2 oz cream cheese

⅛ tsp black pepper; +/- to taste

1 clove garlic; grated/minced

½-1 lb of bacon; cooked and crumbled

2-3 green onions; chopped

Note: When grating the cheese, be sure to grate the darkened smoked sides as well, those bits enhance the flavor greatly!

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, add the 2 tbsp butter and the shallots. Cook the shallot for about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and black pepper. Incorporate.

Note: You still need to have at least 1 tbsp of butter in order to make the roux.  If there is not at least 1 tbsp butter in the pan, add more butter. 

Add the flour to the butter and shallot and whisk until it is a fine paste.  Add a small amount of milk to your pan and whisk the milk in, smoothing out the roux. 

Note: If the roux is not a fine paste or the when the milk is added, the roux is not mixed in thoroughly, it will give your cheese sauce a grainy-texture.  The flavor will be great, but the texture will be off. 

Add the rest of the milk, mix well.  Add the cream cheese.  Stir well allowing the cream cheese to melt into the milk.  Begin adding handfuls of cheese at a time and make smooth.  This does take a bit of patience.  Continue until all the cheese has been added and the sauce is smooth and creamy.  Add the chopped/crumbled bacon and incorporate well. Taste for pepper and salt. 

Note: I did not add any salt to my dish, both the cheese and the bacon had enough salt for my palate.  But some might be needed, particularly if you use low-sodium bacon or the like.

If baking: Cook elbow noodles about ½ the time indicated on the package, mix the undercooked noodles into the sauce and transfer to a baking dish.  Bake in a 350º pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Serve with freshly grated cheese and green onions.

Stovetop: Cook elbow noodles according to package directions.  Add to sauce and mix well.  Serve with freshly grated cheese and green onions. 

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