Just when I (and my thighs) thought we were in the clear with comfort food cravings, Boston’s been hit with a swell of gloomy, rainy weather, which, inconveniently, seems to only occur on the weekends. I’m not too disappointed, though — gives me a chance to make this dish which I thought I’d be waiting ’til the fall to try. The verdict: probably the best mac & cheese I’ve ever made or tried. The sweet fig, salty bacon, and buttery breadcrumb topping is ah-mazing. Thighs be damned.
Bacon, Fig, and Asiago Mac & Cheese
Just the Tip / Inspired by The Avid Appetite
Here’s what I used:
- 8 oz cavatappi (or any short-cut pasta)
- 2 cups fat free half and half
- 5 tbsp butter, divided
- 2 tbsp flour
- 6 oz shredded asiago cheese
- 6 oz shredded sharp wisconsin cheddar
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko
- 1/4 cup finely chopped dried mission figs
- 4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and roughly chopped
- salt, pepper, fresh nutmeg
Here’s what I did:
- Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While that’s coming to a boil, prepare your topping. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a small dish in the micro. Mix in the breadcrumbs, figs, and chopped bacon and set aside.
- Once the water is boiling, salt it and drop the pasta. Start your roux by warming the half and half in a small sauce pan. In a large sauce pan, melt the rest of the butter (3 tbsp) over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk together for a minute or so to cook out the flour taste. Slowly stream in the warmed half and half, whisking constantly. Allow to simmer and thicken for a few minutes, then season with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Stir in the cheeses until well incorporated.
- Drain the pasta when it is 1-2 minutes shy from al dente (it will finish cooking in the oven). Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Transfer the cheesy pasta to a baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over top and bake for 30 minutes and enjoy!