How do you like the title of this recipe? Apples, bacon and cheddar all in a nice baked mac ‘n’ cheese. This stuff is good, and the apples just add a bit of healthiness to the whole dish. Isn’t there a saying….”an apple a day keeps the doc away”. If you aren’t into eating a whole apple, why not throw a chopped one into some comforting mac ‘n’ cheese. This dish serves about 4 but I guess if we are to eat the whole apple, I guess it would only feed 2. You decide, enjoy!
Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Mac ‘n’ Cheese
6 slices bacon, cut into ¼ in pieces
2 apples, cut into ½ in pieces (preferably granny smith)
2 leeks, thinly sliced crosswise, rinsed well and drained (I used ½ onion)
¾ lb elbow macaroni
4 T butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups milk, at room temperature
8 oz sharp white cheddar, shredded (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 350. In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to a paper-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 T fat and add apples and cook till browned and soft. Turn off heat and set aside.
Place leeks/onion in colander in the sink. Cook pasta until al dente in pot of boiling water and drain in that colander with the leeks/onion, to soften.
In the same saucepan used to cook pasta, melt butter. Add the flour, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in milk until smooth and thick, about 10 min. Remove from heat and add 1 ½ cups cheese and generous sprinkle of pepper and whisk until smooth.
Add the pasta/leek mixture to the cheese sauce pan along with the apples and parsley. Reserve ¼ cup of the bacon and toss the remaining with the pasta. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide mixture in 4 16-oz baking dishes sprayed with cooking spray (or one larger dish if you prefer) and top with remaining ½ cup cheese. *Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle reserved bacon and serve hot.
*Want a crunchy topping: Sprinkle with ½ cup dried breadcrumbs and distribute 2 T thinly sliced butter on top and bake!
Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine March 2013