Candied Bacon Mac

I kid you not, this mac n cheese recipe will knock your socks off and have the crowd craving more. I have made this recipe many times for catering events and pop-up cooks and tend to sell out quickly. I have cut down this recipe from the catering size which I use. When making this you will have to use your best judgment as to consistency you are looking for on the sauce. If you would like it thicker simply add more cheese, or if you would rather it thinner you would add more milk. I have not added how to candy the bacon, which ever way you prefer to candy your bacon will work perfectly fine for this recipe. I generally make large orders at a time so when I candy my bacon I will chop it up and fry it in a pan with a White Bulls BBQ Rack City rub and added brown sugar. Small batch recipes I will smoke bacon strips coated in a mixture of brown sugar, white sugar and chili flakes and then chop it up after it is cooked. This recipe is generic and very easily adapted to whatever your desire of flavor is. I also give a good sprinkle of White Bulls BBQ Taco Uppercut over top of the panko topping before it goes in the smoker. Play with it a little and add your favorite rubs, or jump into the shop and pick up the rubs I recommend and try it out for yourself. You will not be disappointed. 

Ingredients

  • 500g Macaroni Noodles

Topping

  • 40g Panko Crumbs
  • 30g Butter (melted)
  • Pinch of salt

Sauce

  • 60g Butter
  • 40g Flour
  • 1L Milk
  • 250g Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Grated)
  • 1/2 Brick Cream Cheese (cubed)
  • 1lbs Candied Bacon (chopped)

Instructions

It is always best to be fully prepared for a recipe by getting all of your ingredients ready ahead of time. The sauce does not take long to make and doesn't leave much time for prep work while making it. Believe me, I've burnt a few batches myself lol. Get out a large pot for the macaroni as well as a medium pot for the sauce. You will also be needing a whisk, rubber spatula and a 9x9 aluminum pan. Now let's get started.

  1. To start I always get the water for my macaroni going. Fill the large sauce pan with water and get it to a rapid boil. I always season my water personally by adding a good pinch of salt. Most macaroni noodles, that I have tried anyway, boil for 3-4 minutes. But read the instructions according to the brand you use and always try one before straining. You are looking for al dente or even a little firmer then that because they will soften up more from the cheese sauce and from baking later on in this recipe.
  2. Once the macaroni is cooked, strain the water out with a strainer. The reason I say use a strainer and not just the lid to the pot is because you need to shock the noodles to stop the cooking process. Turn on the cold water in your sink and spray down the macaroni while mixing them around. Continue this process until they feel cold to the touch. I can't say I know too many people that like soggy noodles in their mac n cheese. When they have cooled off return them to the large pot and toss them in olive oil so that they do not clump together.
  3. Time to get the sauce going. We'll start out by making the roux which is a combination of butter and flour used to thicken the sauce. In the medium sauce pan melt the butter. Once the butter is melted remove from heat and add the flour. Mix until smooth.
  4. Next you are going to whisk in the milk. Make sure you do not stop whisking and add the milk slowly as you do not want any lumps in your sauce. After all the milk has been whisked in you can add the cream cheese and then return the pot to medium heat.
  5. You will have to mix quite often as you do not want to burn this sauce. Believe me, it doesn't take long to burn lol. If you would like to add any seasonings or your favorite rub to the sauce for added flavor, now is the time. Continue to mix until the cream cheese has completely melted down and the sauce has thickened. Once this is achieved you can remove the pan from the heat and turn off your element.
  6. As soon as the pan comes off the heat it is time to add in your cheddar cheese. You do not want heat on at this point because over cooking the cheese will leave a grainy texture in your sauce that you have now worked so hard to keep smooth. Stir until the cheese has melted and then add in your candied bacon. 
  7. By this point your noodles are quite possibly stuck together. A little trick I like to do is if you find they are, return them to the strainer and spray them down with water again. They will break down and no longer be a gigantic ball of macaroni. Combine your macaroni and cheese sauce then pour evenly into a 9x9 aluminum pan.
  8. We are almost done, bare with me just a little longer. To get some great texture we are going to sprinkle on the topping. Mix the panko crumbs and melted butter together until it is well combined. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and you have yourself one amazing looking mac n cheese.
  9. Last but not least is baking/smoking. Entirely up to you on how you finish this up. Either set your smoker or oven to 350, get that pretty little dish in there and bake/smoke until the top browns. I've found that 25-30 minutes will usually cut it but have had times where it has needed more or less time.
  10. This is by far my favorite step. Pull out the forks and plates and get into it.