When we saw this recipe for Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese on the cover of Cooking Light Magazine this month, my daughter wanted it immediately. Of course, she’s five-years-old and can’t read yet so she had no idea what she was asking for contained butternut squash puree and without reading the recipe, I agreed to make her this mac and cheese for dinner one night that week. Well, the day came and I went ahead and without even reading the Cooking Light recipe made her a Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese. Unfortunately, I made it nothing like the Cooking Light recipe and instead made my traditional recipe for Mac and cheese and just tweaked it a bit and then added the broccoli and bacon to it.
She was in love at first taste as was my husband who said he could eat the whole pan of it. Instead of butter in my roux, I used the bacon fat left over from cooking up the 4 strips of center cut bacon. This added an extra layer of bacon flavor in the finished dish. If you prefer not to use the bacon fat, you can use another fat like butter or olive oil as the base for your roux. It’s up to you.
Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese
Yield 8 cups
- 4 oz pasta or elbow macaroni
- 4 slices of center cut bacon cut into 1 inch strips
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into individual florets
- 2 tablespoons butter, bacon fat or olive oil
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup fresh grated mild Cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until your desired tenderness. Remember that the pasta will soften a bit as it absorbs the cheese. During the last few minutes of cooking the pasta, add the fresh broccoli florets into the boiling pasta water and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain immediately and well and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet or saucepan over medium high heat, cook slice bacon pieces until crispy.
- Remove the bacon from the pan and to a paper towel to drain, reserving the bacon fat to start the roux.
- Next, stir in flour, cooking until hot and bubbly, about 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk. Add the salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in the cheddar cheese and continue to cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add the cheese mixture into the pot with the pasta and broccoli, add the bacon and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately.