08.17.12_Baked Mac and Cheese with Smart Bacon

Apparently we've been busy because I have not posted in weeks! Last summer we had a weekly tradition to have friends over for dinner where we watched game shows on TV and made a new cocktail. Somehow this entire summer had almost passed without us reinstating our weekly gathering, but we finally had our first Wild Wednesday Thursday of the summer!

Phillip recently started a new job and at his going away party from his old job, everyone got him gifts under the purview of "eat well, drink well, live well." One of the gifts we got were ramekins from his coworker Rabiah. I had literally been shopping for ramekins the weekend before and could not find ones the size that I wanted, but luckily, Rabiah read my mind and found the perfect ramekins. I had yet to use them so Phillip suggested I make a baked mac and cheese for this weeks Wild Thursday.

I did some quick Googling and found a recipe that incorporated bacon. I decided to base my recipe off this one, but sub the bacon for Lightlife's Smart Bacon. It actually worked quite well, except the "bacon" stuck together when it came out of the package making it virtually impossible to separate it into individual strips. I think it was just this package though because I don't remember having this problem when I used it in our Coq-au-vin-less Coq-au-vin. Anyway, the mac and cheese was DELICIOUS and I served it with a simple salad with craisins, sliced almonds, cheese and a homemade lemon vinaigrette. Yum.

Baked Mac and Cheese with Smart Bacon
Serves 4
Adapted from Emeril's Three-Cheese Baked Macaroni
  • 1/2 pound macaroni
  • 5 slices vegetarian bacon
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (I used fresh grated)
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar Jack Chees
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 TBSP melted butter or margarine
  • salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 475°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni for 6-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a small saute pan, cook the vegetarian bacon in a little olive oil until it starts to get crispy. Add the minced garlic and saute another minute or two until fragrant. Add mixture to the cooked pasta.
3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, evaporated milk, spices, salt and pepper and cheese. well then add the pasta and bacon to the cheese mixture. Stir well until it is completely incorporated.
4. Scoop the macaroni into greased 4" ramekins. Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
5. Combine melted butter and breadcrumbs in small bowl. Carefully remove the ramekins from the oven and top each ramekin with a quarter of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle a little olive oil the top.
6. Turn the oven to broil and put the ramekins back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes then enjoy!


Anonymous said...

What if I just want to make a large baking pan of this how deep should it be and will the temperature and cooking time change?

Jonathan Halpin said...

Any baking dish should be fine. Since everything is already cooked you really are just putting it in the oven to melt the cheese. If its a big pan and the mac and cheese is pretty shallow, check it a few minutes early.