“Grown Up” Mac & Cheese Recipe

Aged Cheddar, Bacon & Beer Béchamel Sauce Over Torchiette Pasta

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Active/Total Time: 40 mins/40 minsServes: 4 to 6

Here's a version of "grown up" gourmet mac & cheese that works well both as dinner party fare and as a satisfying comfort food dish. It uses torchiette pasta, which is a bell-shaped pasta variety from Italy that means "little torches."

The sauce includes bacon, beer, and smoked paprika along with garlic, red pepper, white onions, and a hint of thyme. If you're new to using smoked paprika, go easy at first, then add more if you like. It's a strong flavor and may be an acquired taste for some.

When shopping for cheeses, find one to match the beer you plan to use. Lighter beer should match with a mild aged cheddar cheese, while dark beer will pair well with sharp cheese. The trick here is to match intensities so that the flavors blend instead of overpowering each other.

  • 2 Tbsp white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 red pepper
  • pinch fresh thyme
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup beer (can substitute with milk)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt (to taste)
  • white pepper (to taste)
  • salt for pasta water (1 tsp per 1 L of water)
  • 400 grams torchietti pasta (about 13 ounces)
  • 4 ounces aged cheddar (2 cups)
  • salt (to taste)
  • white pepper (to taste)

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