FIST BUMP!! This is just about one of the most mind-blowing things I have ever made, so I’d get out the fat-pants if I were you. Because you are going to love this.
Garlic, bacon, and beer. Macaroni and cheese. Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s so obvious – why didn’t I think of this ages ago! I made this to go with our fourth of July dinner, along with Whole Grilled Snapper and Grown-up Berry Shortcake, and this creamy mac ‘n cheese just made the whole day …of course, in addition to time with my family, Florida sunshine, fireworks, celebrating the birth of our nation, yada-yada-yada.
Now I have to warn you, this is crazy garlicky and hoppy in an awesome, cheesy, crazy garlicky, cooked-in-beer-sort-of-way. Holy depth of flavor! So you have to commit. You have to go for it and just make this. Just do it. Because it is awesome …Then write me and tell me about it 🙂
- 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
- 4 T unsalted butter, divided
- 3 T all-purpose flour
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 t fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 2 c milk
- 3/4 c stout beer (such as Guinness)
- 1 t kosher salt
- pinch fresh cracked pepper
- 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 c Wispride- or Kaukauna-brand sharp cheddar cheese spread (available in the dairy aisle)
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
- garnish: fresh thyme leaves and couple pinches barbecue seasoning, such as Chef Prudhomme's or my Grilling Rub for Chicken
- Heat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 3 T butter with the flour over medium heat, whisking until bubbly. Cook 2 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 t thyme, and cook an additional minute. Slowly whisk in the the milk and beer. Heat, stirring constantly, a couple minutes until quite warm but not boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low, add both cheeses, salt, and pepper, and cook, whisking, until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in half the bacon.
- Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions in salted water. Drain and add to the cheese sauce. Transfer to a 2-qt baking dish.
- In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the panko, remaining 1/2 t thyme, and remaining bacon. sprinkle over the macaroni. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Serve garnished with fresh thyme leaves and a pinch of barbecue seasoning. Yield: 6-8 servings.