Sometimes it just has to be over the top.
When my nine-year-old asked if I could make him homemade mac ‘n cheese, I prodded, “With bacon?”
“Oooh, yeeeeah.” he said.
I’m so proud my kids respond appropriately to the pleasures of food. It’s a good sign they’ll live deeply and search out the things that make this life worthwhile.
Then I started thinking about Comfort Food Month at Ye Olde Rice Flour Memoirs, and I decided to bring it all home. This gluten free mac is made with rice penne, mascarpone, smoked gouda, mozzarella, heavy cream, and butter. Did I just hear Paula Deen shriek with jealous horror? Your days are done, my lady. Enter: crazy liberal mom-of-three with a day job and a wooden spoon that has a burn mark across the back from the time I accidentally left it on the stove’s hot coils.
I digress. I’ll move over and let the recipe do the talking.
Bacon and Three Cheese Mac
1/2 lb. uncured smoked bacon (I grabbed the TJ’s brand)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic with the scapes (the tops) attached – mince the cloves of garlic, chop the scapes
2 lbs. rice penne
6 oz. smoked gouda, shredded
8 oz. mozzarella, shredded
4 oz. mascarpone
1 pint heavy cream
2 good pinches sea salt (I used Maldon Sea Salt)
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp. or so olive oil
Lay the bacon on a sheet pan and cook it in a 350 degree F oven until desired crispness is reached. Set a large pot of water over high heat and throw in a few good pinches of sea salt. While you’re waiting for the water to come up to a boil, prep your shallots, garlic, and dill, and shred your cheeses.
When you’re done, melt the butter in a large pan over medium low heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until just beginning to turn golden (you want to do this nice and slow). Add the minced garlic cloves to the onion and butter and sauté for a couple minutes to let the flavors come together.
Turn the heat to low and add the heavy cream to the onion mixture, a little at a time, stirring well between additions so the cream doesn’t break. Next, add the mozz, gouda, and mascarpone and let it the cheeses melt together. Stir intermittently.
Check your bacon. Add the noodles to the pot of boiling water and cook only until al dente (you’ll be stirring these noodles into the cheesy sauce after they’re cooked so you want them to be slightly under cooked, and definitely not overcooked). When the bacon is finished, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Once the cheeses have melted, add the sea salt, black pepper, half the dill, and half the chopped garlic tops and stir well.
Drain the pasta, toss it with a 2 Tbsp. olive oil to keep it from sticking, then add the melted cheese sauce and mix well. Slice the bacon and toss it into the pasta. Serve garnished with extra dill and garlic scapes.
Note: This made a huge (and awesome) batch. I served half of it for dinner and then froze the other half of it in a buttered baking dish for a future knock your socks off quickie meal. For extra kicks, I topped the frozen mac with finely grated parm and the remaining scape and dill so I can broil it after it bakes and make it all crisp and brown on top. Oh, and the parm officially makes it a 4 cheese mac with bacon, so there.
Gah! It’s so good! I mean so good. It’s really really freaking good.