Barefoot Bloggers- Grown Up Mac & Cheese

This is my first Barefoot Bloggers recipe. When I heard about this group I thought it would be fun since I like Ina Garten, although I don’t have much time to watch her show anymore. This recipe is for “Grown Up Mac & Cheese,” chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. I make homemade mac & cheese on a somewhat regular basis, but don’t use bacon or the types of cheeses this recipe calls for. I did make some substitutions, however. I used ham instead of bacon as we rarely eat bacon, and I used whole wheat rotelle since TJ’s doesn’t have whole wheat macaroni (we’re trying to incorporate more whole grains in our diet). I also used whole wheat bread instead of white bread beacuse we don’t eat white bread and I didn’t want to buy a whole loaf for two slices.

I figure those are fairly minor substitutions. When your audience is mainly under 3 years old, I’m not too concerned with refined tastebuds. 🙂 I baked mine in a 13″x9″ dish instead of the two individual-sized dishes as called for in the recipe.

I baked it at 350 F for 20 minutes and it got pretty brown. The basil tasted a little burnt. I wasn’t sure if maybe the individual-sized dishes were a lot deeper than a 13″x9″?

Anyway, it tasted good. The family was happy, but then again, it’s rare for hubby and girls to turn down mac & cheese!

Grown Up Mac and Cheese 2007, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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