Mac and Cheese is my ultimate comfort food. Like, ULTIMATE. My nana first made this for me when I was little and she would always add bacon to her dish, hence why I have to have it in mine. I have made countless variations of this dish but this version here is seriously the best. It is everything you always hoped mac and cheese would be. It has a creamy, cheesy macaroni filling thanks to not one, not two, but three types of cheese. It’s scattered with little crunchy salty hits of bacon. You also get the subtle hint of the truffle oil, and then you have the topping, with even more bacon, more cheese and the super crunchy and delicious panko crumbs. This is a hangover cure in food form. It’s also the best dish to make when you’re feeling a bit sloth-like, you want to stay in your pyjamas all day and you are definitely not expecting visitors, because while this creamy delight can seemingly serve 4 people it can also serve one person straight from this dish. Let’s be honest, when this is the sort of food you’re craving you don’t care who’s judging you.
The Best Mac and Cheese
- 2 ½ cups macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 300g rindless bacon, roughly diced
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
Cheesy Béchamel Sauce:
- 3 tsp truffle oil
- 2 heaped tbs plain flour
- 80g unsalted butter
- 3 cups milk
- ½ cup gruyere cheese
- ½ cups vintage cheddar
- ¾ cup good quality parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to season
Preheat oven grill to 200C.
Bring a medium sized pot of water to the boil. Once boiled, add the macaroni and cook about a minute less than the packet instructions suggest as it will cook further in the oven later.
Heat a medium sized fry pan with the olive oil, and then add the bacon. Cook the bacon until cooked through and well coloured. Set aside.
For the béchamel sauce, place the butter and flour in a medium sized pot over a medium-high heat and cook for about 2 minutes, so that the flour cooks out (this is called a roux). Add a little bit of the milk and using a whisk, beat it quickly and well so that there are no lumps, then add the rest of the milk still beating quickly. Keep stirring the mixture until it starts to thicken, this can take up to ten minutes. Once the mixture has boiled, coats the back of a spoon and is thick, add the gruyere, cheddar, ½ cup of the parmesan, truffle oil and season well, then take off heat.
Add the cooked macaroni and half the bacon to the béchamel mixture and mix through. Check again to see if it needs more seasoning. Pour the mixture into a 1.5 litre baking dish, then sprinkle over the remaining bacon and parmesan and then top with the panko crumbs. Place under the grill for about 5-7 minutes or until the panko crumbs are nice and golden. Serve straight away.