You’ll love this because it hits every ‘comfort note’ in your brain. Pasta, cheese, bacon, and some crunch from the panko breadcrumbs. This dish is as decadent as they come and in my mind, the only thing missing is a cold beer to go with it and a piece of something chocolate for dessert. This is not for the faint of heart in terms of the ingredients, it does have a lot of cheese! Make this to share and freeze. It freezes like a champ for a quick single serving lunch or night when no one feels like cooking. I promise, this treat is worth the effort every now and then.
It is possible to make this dish up in one fell swoop in your kitchen or you can do it in stages. It’s up to you. I put the water on the boil, start the bacon and onions, and pre-heat the saucepan for the cheese sauce. While the pasta boils, the bacon and onions are working, and I’m whisking away at my cheese sauce. It is possible! If you’re not quite that confident, make the bacon and onions and set aside. Make the pasta and leave in strainer, and make the cheese sauce last. It’s up to you, but I have faith you can rock this recipe!
makes a VERY FULL 9×9 pan when finished
- 1/2 lb elbow pasta
- 4 slices bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2-3 cups milk of choice
- 2 cups shredded cheese of choice
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- hot sauce (optional)
- Panko bread crumbs or corn flakes, crushed (optional)
- Cook bacon and onions together until bacon is cooked through and onions begin to brown and caramelize in a saute pan. You may like to remove the bacon before the onions are done if you prefer softer bacon. Should take about 15-20 minutes for the onions to brown up.
- Remove from heat and drain off any extra grease or set into paper towels to cool. Set aside.
- Bring water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Boil pasta to desired doneness. About 9 minutes.
- Drain in colander and set aside until you’re ready for it.
To make the cheese sauce:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pre-heat a small/medium sauce pan on medium.
- Add olive oil and onions.
- Cook until onions begin to get translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir to cook evenly.
- Add flour to make the rue.
- Whisk the flour into the olive oil. If you need to add a bit more olive oil to make a paste, do so.
- Cook rue for 2-3 minutes for a light rue. Overcooking the rue will burn it. Whisk this up!
- Add milk.
- Continue to whisk.
- When the milk is heated through, add the shredded cheese by the handful and whisk to incorporate.
- Once the cheese is added and melted into the mixture, it should be quite thick.
- Add salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, hot sauce, etc… to taste. This is the perfect time to taste your sauce before adding the noodles. Use your best judgment.
- Combine noodles, cheese sauce, and most of bacon/onion mix. Leave some out to sprinkle on top if you want.
- Pour mix into a 9×9 pan.
- Top with remaining bacon/onions/more cheese/panko breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes.
- Bake uncovered for 20-30 min.
- Remove from oven.
- Let sit at least 15 min. before serving or it will melt all the skin inside of your mouth. Trust me on this one.
This freezes like magic too. I like to make a big batch (9×13 pan) and freeze at least half. I portion it out into bags and label into 2-3 servings for a dinner and a few lunches. This also makes a killer dish to pass. You can enjoy it and so can everyone else!