There is nothing better than some warm, gooey mac + cheese! My Skillet Bacon Mac will be your family favorite in no time.
A Mac + Cheese Moment
Food trends tend to be hit or miss, but I sure am glad that we seem to be having a serious Mac + Cheese moment lately! Not only is it effortlessly kid friendly, but it’s easy to customize based on your diet or preferences. This bacon mac is one of my family’s favorites. I love the crispy, salty bacon, the creamy cheesiness, with the perfect panko crust.
Of course, if you want, you can add or take away just about anything to make this skillet mac just the way you want. Maybe throw in some veg, like zucchini or broccoli, to kick start your vegetable intake without tipping off your kiddos.
One of the very first episodes of my show, Kelsey’s Essentials, was dedicated to Cast Iron Skillets because they are such an important tool for your kitchen. I love my Lodge Cast Iron Skillet because of the dual handles. The ability to make a gourmet style meal for at-home date nights or even a giant skillet chocolate cookie make this one of my kitchen essentials. See my full review for the Lodge here!
1 pound dry pasta (recommended: elbow macaroni, shells, penne, etc.)
1 teaspoon dry mustard, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 slices bacon, cooked, reserve 1/4 cup rendered bacon fat
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups hot whole milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Make the bechamel sauce, recipe follows, in a large 12-inch oven-safe skillet.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until nearing al dente, but not fully cooked; drain. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Over low heat, stir the dry mustard and cayenne pepper into the bechamel sauce. Gradually add the Cheddar, Gruyere, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until all of the cheese has melted into the bechamel sauce. Add an additional cup of milk and cream. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
In another large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy and golden brown. Remove the cooked bacon from the skillet, reserving 3 tablespoons rendered bacon fat.
Add the cooked pasta to the bechamel and stir to coat evenly with the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and reserved bacon fat. Coat the bread crumbs and chopped parsley with bacon fat and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the macaroni. Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
Bake until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with crumbled cooked bacon. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
To make the Bechamel:
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or an oven-safe skillet.
Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, avoid browning, about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring the sauce to a boil. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste. Reduce the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Hi, I’m Kelsey! New here? It’s so nice to meet you!
My mission is to help you feel inspired to cook a little more and gather those that you love most around your table.