A combination of cheeses, crispy bacon, the creaminess and richness of egg yolks and a crunchy, cheesy topping make this Mac and Cheese Carbonara deliciously amazing!
Creamy, cheesy, bacon-y and scrumptious, this easy to make Mac and Cheese Carbonara is an exciting alternative to the delicious classic Mac and Cheese we all love!
Mac and Cheese – what could I say about it that hasn’t been said before? Creamy, gooey, cheesy and decadent. The ultimate comfort food!
One of my kid’s most requested meal – although they love the blue box stuff. Sorry blue box stuff lovers but I just don’t get it!!! Perhaps it’s because I didn’t grow up eating it (no, I’m not a snob! We just didn’t have that in Peru).
I love Mac and Cheese and I have had some amazing versions throughout the years. Actually one of my favorite versions is made by one of my most talented friends, Rick Massa.
Rick actually won a competition on the Food Network for his Cheese Lovers 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese. Talk about a winning Mac and Cheese!!!
This Mac and Cheese Carbonara is a slightly different version of the classic mac and cheese. I turned up the volume by adding bacon and egg yolks to the creamy cheesy sauce. The yolks add such richness and the flavor of the smoky crispy bacon is perfect in this dish! Besides, bacon makes everything better!
Although this Mac and Cheese Carbonara is easy enough to make during the week, it’s also so decadent and elegant that will be the perfect addition to a dinner party or a holiday meal.
It all starts by sauteing bacon in a pot or skillet – I use a pot because after I make the sauce, I add the noodles right in – no need to dirty up too many pots/bowls. I quickly saute the garlic in the bacon drippings – turn the heat to low and keep an eye on it – you have to move fast at this point because no one wants burnt garlic! Add the flour and cook it for a couple of minutes (this prevents a raw flour taste in the sauce). Then add the milk, eggs and flavorings and whisk away! Relax – we are not doing cardio – just making a sauce! The sauce will thicken and then the cheeses go in!
I chose creamy Asiago, nutty white Cheddar, tangy sharp Cheddar, creamy and mild Fontina and of course Parmesan! To top it all, an easy mixture of panko bread crumbs, Parmesan and parsley. The result? A light, crispy and cheesy topping you will want to eat right out of the the bowl (I did – sometimes I can’t resist delicious goodness)
- Making Mac and Cheese can be expensive, especially when you have more than 3 cheeses in the recipe. My suggestion? Buy the cheese in places like Aldis or Trader Joe’s. Prices are lower and the quality is good. You are mixing so many flavors that the result is going to be great anyway.
- Any short shape pasta can be used for this recipe.
- Culinary school taught me to warm up the milk before making the sauce. Motherhood tough me that life is too short and time flies…. what I do is – I bring the milk to room temperature by warming it in the microwave.
- Cook the pasta very al dente – it will bake in the sauce and get softer. No one wants mushy noodles (unless you love mushy cheesy noodles).
- I top the Mac and Cheese Carbonara with the bacon – instead of mixing it in. My family only eats crispy bacon and that’s the reason for it. I thought it was perfect that way!
- Use the food processor to grate the cheese. I cannot say that enough!! It goes so fast and will prevent hand cramping!
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Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay
- Butter for the baking dish
- 6 ounces bacon, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 cups whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 8 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
- 6 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente, drained
- 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
In a small bowl mix the panko, Parmesan and parsley. Reserve.
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until nicely brown and crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic to the bacon drippings. Cook for about a minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and raise the heat to high. Add the egg yolks, thyme and nutmeg. Whisk to incorporate. Whisk constantly until the mixture starts to thickened, about 5 -7 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in all the different cheeses until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cooked macaroni and mix well to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Top the macaroni with the reserved bacon and the topping. Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
The easier and faster way to way to grate cheese is by using a food processor with the grating blade.
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