For People Who Think Mac and Cheese is Too Healthy


Goddamn I hate winter. I’d be fine with winter if it was a place, like Narnia, where you could just go when you felt like skiing or getting in snowball fights with elves or hanging out with Santa, but as a three-to-five month takeover of my life, I could really do without. But I love that winter gives you the excuse to cook insanely rich meat-and-cheese-filled foods, all in the name of “warmth” and “comfort.” Bye-bye refreshing fall salads, hello hearty mac and cheese!

Everyone’s got their own mac and cheese recipe, so I figured it was high time to come up with one of my own. After reading up on the basics and realizing just how much cheese (and milk and butter) goes into making a yummy m&c, I fleetingly considered doing something healthy, perhaps with spinach and mushrooms. I think we all know that didn’t happen. Not when I had all that leftover bacon hanging around in my freezer. Thanks to all your frying tips, I cooked up some sizzling bacon, chopped up a few of my fav veggies (roasted red peppers), improvised with bacon-soaked garlic, and created this delicious and nutritious recipe. Save the spinach for spring.

Bacon Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Mac and Cheese:

– Boil water and cook 1 pound (a box) of mini shells to al dente. You can use elbows if you’re a purist, but I’ve never understood why mac and cheese has to be made with that specific kind of pasta. The mini shells soak up the cheeses and stick together just as well.

– Meanwhile, fry seven slices of bacon until they are just crispy. Don’t cook to full crispiness because they will cook a bit more in the oven. Set the bacon aside and try not to eat all of it.

– Mince 4 cloves of garlic and cook these on very low heat in the bacon grease, until golden brown. Remove from heat and try not to eat all of these either, they are friggin tasty.

– Grate 2 cups of cheddar cheese.

– On low heat, melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter. When butter is melted, add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk quickly until there are no lumps.

– Gradually add 3 cups of milk, continually whisking. Cook the mixture on low for about 10 minutes until it starts to thicken, and then add your cheddar. Mix until the cheese is absorbed and then remove from heat.

– Lay the pasta out in a casserole dish and pour the cheese mixture over it.

– Break the bacon into bite-sized pieces and distribute throughout.

– Dice 2 roasted red peppers and add these to the casserole. Mix everything together to ensure it’s all evenly distributed.

– Spread the garlic evenly over the top.

– Grate a thin layer of Parmesan cheese over the top.

– Sprinkle with a very thin layer of Italian breadcrumbs.

– Bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes, until breadcrumbs are browned.

Obviously, this is as rich as they come, but also not overbearingly filling like other macs that use twice as much cheese. I’m eating it for leftovers right now, and it’s even better, as the bacon flavor has absorbed through into every bite. Mmmm.

More Bacon: Recipes, raves and other bacon bits in Endless Bacon.

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  • Maidelitala December 9, 2008  

    BS, the down side to Narnia is no bacon… I mean, would you really eat a talking thinking piglet who said “hey chum, why do you want to put me in your mac in cheese when we could both hang out with Santa and throw some snow balls around?” I don’t think so.

  • belmontmedina December 9, 2008  

    1) Elbows make it taste better. Any small child will tell you that.

    2) When I was little, all my sister would eat was macaroni and cheese, so my mom put whatever else we were having for dinner in it- mac and cheese with kielbasa, green beans, hamburger, whatever.

  • HoneyB December 10, 2008  

    OMG, sounds wonderful! YUMMM

  • Jessie December 10, 2008  

    Yowee, this looks great! Well done!

    a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse

  • Jennifer December 10, 2008  

    I’m going to have to try that. Hel-lo winter fluff! aka the 5 lbs. you gain during the winter takeover…

  • Yvo December 10, 2008  

    There isn’t enough cheese in this in my humblest of opinions… 😉
    PS while I get the temptation of hand crumbling the bacon – you get to snack on the pieces that are too big and “refuse” to break – I must prefer the cutting before cooking, because they’re more evenly sized. Because I am anal retentive. I think I’ve mentioned that before. lol.
    PPS Winter fluff? I have all year fluff 🙁

  • dad gansie December 10, 2008  

    looks, sounds great….would some red pepper flakes spice it up too??

    better than my oatmeal w/ banana for lunch and
    for dinner, still eating a lot of gansie’s great squash & carott/potatoes soups.

  • Heidi / Savory Tv December 10, 2008  

    Bacon and cheese, a marriage made in heaven! It sounds delicious! And hey, there is a vegetable in there, so it’s healthy!

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