Bacon Mac O’ Lantern

October 17, 2019

This spooky take on bacon mac and cheese is heavy on the cheesiness, with a crispy top and THIS IS SO GOOD vibes. Perfect for a spooky Halloween party!

From Bechamel to BOO

Every good homemade Mac + Cheese starts with a classic bechamel sauce that will have cheese folded into it making it luscious cheesy goodness. While bechamel is a classic sauce, and one of the first things I learned in culinary school, it has a history of being finicky when it comes to combating grittiness. But if you follow a few simple steps and/or tips, you’ll knock it out of the park every single time.

Tips for a Creamy Bechamel

  • Slow and steady wins the race. Do not rush this process. It can be tempting to dump everything in at once and whisk with one hand while crossing your fingers with the other. Resist the urge to do that and slowly add your milk and cheese.
  • Warm your milk. It’s really important that your milk is warmed before adding it to your sauce if you want that super silky consistency. If you add it cold, it will be gritty, no matter what you do.
  • Cook out the flour. Right after adding your flour to your butter, make sure you whisk constantly over medium heat for a full 2 minutes. You want to cook out the chalky taste of the flour but do so without browning the roux too much – that’s why constant whisking is important.

Play with Your Food!

Taking a recipe like this that I’ve made countless times before and giving it a holiday twist is such a fun way to update a classic. By taking the chopped bacon and making the face of a Jack O’ Lantern, you instantly make your food fun. This is a great way for me to incorporate my kids into the kitchen and get them excited about dinner. But let’s be honest, have you ever met anyone that ISN’T excited about homemade Mac + Cheese?

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Bacon Mac O’ Lantern


  • Author: kelseynixon
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

This spooky take on bacon mac and cheese is heavy on the cheesiness, with a crispy bacon topping and THIS IS SO GOOD vibes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1-pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups hot whole milk
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (not in the bag)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 lb. bacon, cooked and crisped
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain.

In a large 10” oven-proof skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in the dry mustard and cayenne pepper, and then gradually add the shredded cheddar cheese, stirring constantly until all of the cheese has melted into the sauce. Stir in the remaining 1 cup milk. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Coat the breadcrumbs with reserved bacon fat and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the skillet. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake until the top is browned, and the sauce is bubbling, 10 to 12 minutes. Top with crumbled cooked bacon making the shape of a Jack – O – Lantern face. Garnish with parsley and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes