Jackie’s Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Onions
Serves: 10 as a side dish, 6 to 8 as a main dish

**If you’re baking this, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and boil the pasta for 1 minute less than package directions suggest for al dente. Otherwise just eat it out of the saucepan.

1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1 box of medium shell pasta or elbows (1 lb.)
1 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons flour
3.5 cups whole milk (don’t use any other kind, it doesn’t come out as creamy)
1.75 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar mix
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 onion, diced
4 slices of bacon
Olive oil

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Boil a pot of water and cook the shells according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and leave in the colander.

While the water boils, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a small frying pan. Heat to medium heat and fry the bacon slices. Put the bacon slices on a paper towel-covered plate to cool. Don’t pour out the bacon fat. Put the frying pan back on the stove and heat back to medium. Cook the diced onion in the bacon fat until translucent but not completely caramelized.

While the pasta sits in the colander, add the rest of the butter back into the saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux.

mac n cheese roux

Cook until it’s golden but not burned, 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic powder, cayenne, and mustard.

mac n cheese spices

Slowly whisk in the milk and broth.

mac n cheese add milk

Simmer and whisk often until it’s slightly thickened but not boiling, about 6 minutes. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the cheeses a cup at a time, letting them melt into the mixture before adding more.

mac n cheese sauce

Season with salt and pepper and pour in the cooked shells. Stir well to break up any clumps that may have formed while the pasta sat draining.

mixing in the pasta

Chop up the bacon into biggish pieces and stir into the pasta mixture.

with bacon!

Stir in the cooked onion.

add the onion

You can serve this as is now, or if you’d like the baked version: Spread out into a greased casserole dish.

in the casserole dish

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top. Bake until the breadcrumbs have turned golden brown and the cheese is bubbling around the edges, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.