Waiting for the election returns to be finalized, we needed comfort food, so I pulled this together with stuff I had in the fridge.
If you love BACON, you will LOVE this! The bacon is served on top, so it's still crisp, and the bacon fat is used to create the white sauce for the pasta. I sauteed onions in the fat before making the roux, which added umami to the sauce. I debated whether to stir the onions in, but decided to serve them on top, too. A few leftover green peppers from yesterday's fried rice cut through the richness and added some color.
The cheese I used was white, not orange, so I added some sunshine kabocha to the sauce. You can use any orange-flesh winter squash for this - pumpkin, butternut, kabocha, etc... It will add richness, color, and nutrition without changing the flavor.
GF Bacon and Onion Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound macaroni (I used Tres Omega gluten free elbows)
- 1 pound bacon
- 1.5 cups diced onions
- 1/4 c. minced green peppers
- 1/3 - 1/2 c. flour (I used gluten free sweet rice flour)
- 4 cups milk (I used whole milk)
- 1/2 t. dried thyme leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups of shredded cheese (I used a combination of raclette and cheddar)
- 1 cup fresh ricotta
- 1 c. winter squash puree (I used sunshine kabocha)
- 1/4 t. cayenne, or to taste
- 1 t. salt, or to taste
Cook the pasta according to package directions, for 1 minute less than recommended, so it's a little underdone. Drain and return to the warm pan. Cover and set aside.
In a small sauce pan, combine the milk with the thyme and garlic. Warm it over very low heat until small bubbles appear around the edge. Do not let it boil. Keep it warm while you prepare the other components.
In a medium sauce pan, cook the bacon on medium heat until it's light brown and crisp. Remove to paper towels.
Add the diced onions to the hot bacon fat and saute on medium until light brown on the edges. Remove to a bowl leaving as much fat behind as possible..
Make the roux: Depending on how much fat is left in the pan*, add enough flour to make a thin paste and, stirring constantly, saute it until it's light brown. (*If your bacon is very fatty, you should measure out 1/3 cup of grease and reserve the rest for another use.)
Make the sauce: Turn the heat off. Add the warm milk to the pan 1/2 cup at a time, and stir vigorously after each addition to insure no lumps form. If there are lumps, use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce.
Return the sauce to medium low heat and stir until it's warm, thick and creamy.
Add the cheeses and stir until they've melted. Add the cayenne. If you're using it, add the winter squash puree. Stir well.
Taste the sauce and adjust the salt. I added 1 teaspoon because the cheese and bacon we use isn't overly salty.
Add the sauce to the reserved pasta. You may not need it all. I added it one-cup at a time and had a LOT of sauce left over. I suspect it's because I used GF pasta which doesn't expand as much as wheat pasta does.
Serve immediately with the reserved bacon, onions, and green peppers sprinkled on top.
If you want to bother, you could mix everything except the bacon together, transfer it to a baking dish, sprinkle with grated parmesan, and then bake it in a 350 oven until the top browns. I'll do that tomorrow with the leftovers.
If you stir the bacon in, it will lose its crispness.
This was wonderful with Gruner Veltliner, the dry white wine we usually serve with raclette.