Thursday, February 26, 2015

#8 - Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

 Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE CHEESE! Really! If I could get away with it, I’d eat cheese and bread (and maybe a little fruit) everyday! The other day I was at Sam’s Club looking for a little cheese to take to the beach for our usual picnic spread… I know, sounds crazy because you can’t just buy a “little” cheese at Sam’s.  Listen, Sam’s has a pretty good cheese section!  So what if you end up with a GIANT brick of Havarti!  I ended up with a $13 giant brick of Ballyshannon - a creamy, white Irish cheddar.

My almost 2 pound block of cheese!

Our beach picnic spread.
That was some good cheese!  As we were eating it I kept thinking how great it would be in mac & cheese!  So a couple of days later, Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese was born!

Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

Serves 4-6.


8 ounces elbow macaroni
5 slices Applewood smoked Bacon, cooked & diced
2 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Ballyshannon Irish Cheddar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  
4. Heat milk, thyme and garlic in a small saucepan, but don't let it boil. 
5. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat, add the Gruyère, cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and bacon and stir well. Place the mixture in a buttered 9x13 baking dish.
6. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the breadcrumbs and parsley, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

PS.  I’m still working on that brick of cheese!! I've used it in several other things since! Tonight we put it in the Potato-Leek soup we had for dinner… YUM!!

(Recipe #8 of 52)

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