Recipe Road Test: Bacon-and-Gravy Mac and Cheese from "MUNCHIES"

Seira Wilson on October 19, 2017

 Munchies200I was eager to see what some of the best chefs made after a late night, so was flipping through the pages of MUNCHIES when I landed on page 134.  The recipe name caught my eye and the photo reeled me in. 



Joaquin Baca's Bacon-and-Gravy Mac and Cheese is the most comforting, creamy, iron skillet of mac and cheese goodness I've ever made.  I had a little anxiety over having so many pans on the stove because the gravy and cheese sauce need to basically be made at the same time, or kept warm, and then there are noodles and bacon to cook.  But it all came together beautifully, bacon on the bottom and gravy on the top.  I can't even tell you how good, but here's how it looked (at right) before it was devoured.

Below is the recipe--I urge you to throw calories to the wind and make it.  Now I'm eyeing Michael White's recipe for Late-Night Carbonara....

*MUNCHIES is an editors' pick for the Best Cookbooks of October.

Joaquin Baca
Brooklyn Star - Brookyln, New York

Bacon-and-Gravy Mac and Cheese


1½ cups whole milk 
1 bay leaf 
1 sprig fresh thyme 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
¼ cup all-purpose flour 
½ teaspoon kosher salt 
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 
½ cup all-purpose flour 
3 cups whole milk 
1 cup heavy cream 
2 tablespoons dry mustard powder 
1 tablespoon mild hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot 
1¼ pounds sharp white cheddar cheese, preferably Cabot, shredded 
4 ounces processed cheese product, such as Velveeta, cubed 
4 strips bacon 
1 pound dried cavatappi or elbow macaroni 

To make the gravy, combine the milk, bay leaf, and thyme in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour into a bowl and let steep for 30 minutes. Wipe the pan clean, add the butter, then return the pan to low heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove the herbs from the milk and discard them, then pour the milk into the saucepan, whisking constantly, bring to a simmer, and cook until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and keep warm. 

To make the cheese sauce, heat the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. When the butter starts to foam, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mustard powder and hot sauce, then add 1 pound of the cheddar and all of the cheese product and stir until melted and smooth. Remove the sauce from the heat and keep warm. 

To make the mac and cheese, heat the oven to 400°F. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the bacon strips, and cook, turning once, until they’re crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels, reserving the bacon fat for another use (do not wipe out the skillet). Remove the skillet from the heat. Crumble the bacon into small pieces, then return them to the skillet. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until the pasta is tender but still crunchy, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the pasta, then stir it into the cheese sauce. Season with salt and pepper. 

Pour the macaroni and cheese over the bacon and smooth the top. Pour the gravy over the macaroni and cheese and spread it evenly over the top. Sprinkle on the remaining ¼ pound cheddar, then bake until bubbling and golden brown on top, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 


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