Surprisingly, I've never made Macaroni and Cheese from scratch before and figured now was as good a time as ever. I needed to bring a side dish to a Fourth of July party, but I wanted something with a kick of flavor. I started with the Food Network and found some great reviews for Guy Fieri's Mac Daddy Mac n' Cheese. The pepper jack cheese really added a delicious dimension to this hearty pasta. While this is by NO means an even remotely healthy dish - eating it as a side dish, rather than a main course might help. When I prepared this I quadrupled the recipe, so the pictures reflect that.
Mad Daddy Mac n' Cheese
2 shallots, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 pieces bacon, diced, cooked, reserving 1 tablespoon bacon fat
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound pasta, cooked
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp. melted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place shallots and garlic in a small aluminum foil pouch and drizzle with olive oil. Roast 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from foil and chop. In a large saute pan, reheat reserved bacon fat over medium heat. Add roasted shallot and garlic and saute for 1 minute.
Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in heavy cream and thyme. Reduce by a third. Stir in cheeses until melted, creamy and thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and gently stir in pasta. Place in a 9X13 casserole dish. In a small bowl, mix together diced bacon, bread crumbs, butter and parsley.
Top Mac n Cheese with Panko mixture and bake uncovered at same heat until bubbling and lightly browned on top, 20 to 25 minutes.