Whenever I go for long periods without a particular food, I'll reach a point where I can't stop thinking about it. This was the case with macaroni and cheese. It even made an appearance in one of my dreams so I gave in and made this rather decadent version.
This wasn't going to be just any mac and cheese! I added bacon and caramelized onions as well as a bit of wine. I have no regrets and hopefully this will tie me over for another year or so. :p
8oz elbow macaroni
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
a couple pinches cayenne
1 3/4 cups milk
2-3 tbsp blending flour such as Wondra
salt, to taste
8oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp butter
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
Cook the macaroni in lightly salted water until it's "almost" al dente, but not quite done. It will continue to soften while it's in the oven. Drain the pasta and place into a large mixing bowl.
Cut the bacon into half inch pieces and fry until crisp. Drain on a paper towel then toss in with the macaroni.
Remove most of the rendered bacon fat from the skillet leaving about 2 teaspoon for the onions. Lower the heat and cook them slowly until they have browned nicely without burning. Toss those in with the macaroni and bacon.
Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomato paste, mustard, pepper and cayenne. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in the milk. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of blending flour evenly over the mixture and whisk until the sauce thickens; add another tablespoon if it seems too runny. Cook for about two minutes, check and add salt as needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt the butter in a small skillet and when it begins to sizzle add the bread crumbs. Fry them until they are lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add the shredded cheddar and Parmesan to the macaroni mixture and toss until the cheese is evenly combined. Pour the partially cooled sauce over this mixture and toss until everything is evenly moistened.
Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and add the macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top.
Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until it's bubbling hot.