“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.

Ingredients
  • 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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