This homemade Baked Mac And Cheese With Crunchy Topping recipe gets it’s crunch from crispy bacon and panko, and it’s spicy kick from tabasco sauce! ~ This post is part of the Tabasco Holiday #shop hosted by #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. All opinions are my own. ~
Around here the leaves have fallen, the air is colder and the turkey leftovers are long gone. The Thanksgiving holiday party decorations have been packed away and the Christmas decorations are coming out. With the colder weather the extra blankets are piled high alongside our collection of fuzzy slippers. The shorter days mean we get out with the kids as often as we can during the daylight hours.
We spend most of our weekend days taking long winter walks through the woods. We love bundling up our kids and exploring the winter landscape which will soon be covered in snow. The kids love searching for rabbit, deer and even raccoon tracks. They also have fun seeing how may pinecones and acorns they can fill their coat pockets with. After an eventful day of winter exploration we make sure we have a warm, comforting meal ready to eat when we get home.
A family favorite of ours is macaroni and cheese with bacon and panko. This is one of those wonderful meals that everyone in the family can enjoy. Adults and children love the tender pasta covered in warm, creamy cheese sauce. To add a little flair for the adults, we add a hint of Tabasco sauce and we cover the macaroni and cheese with a crispy bacon and panko topping.
I have to say, after freezing our toes off on the long winter trail this recipe made my evening. There is nothing better than sitting in front of the fire, with a piping hot bowl of macaroni and cheese, with a seasonal craft beer in hand. If you are looking for a little twist on a traditional family favorite, you can stop by your local Walmart for the ingredients listed below. Enjoy!
MAC AND CHEESE WITH BACON AND PANKO
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 3 1/2 cups (12 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1 1/2 cups (12 0z) evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
- 1/4 tsp tabasco
- 1/4 tsp mustard
- 1 tbs cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup panko
- 1 tbs butter
- 2 tbs bacon fat
- sea salt
- cracked pepper
Step 1: Boil pasta according to package; pasta should be al dente. (We cook it 1 minute less tank the package directions.) Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
Step 2: In a large saucepan, warm the evaporated milk over low heat. When heated, blend in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted. (Do not boil this cheese sauce!)
Step 3: Stir in the tabasco sauce, pasta water, mustard, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add pasta to cheese sauce and coat thoroughly. Carefully pour pasta into a baking dish and set aside.
Step 4: In a skillet, cook diced bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain. Reserve 2 tablespoon of bacon fat.
Step 5: Season panko breadcrumbs liberally with parsley, sea salt and cracked pepper. Add mixture to the skillet along with the reserved bacon fat and butter. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
Step 6: Top macaroni and cheese with toasted panko and bacon bits. Place in the oven at 350 degrees and bake until the edges are bubbling, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. (The panko will not stay crisp in the fridge, so eat up!)