Ray wanted to name a dish "Penne for Your Thoughts" because he loves cheesy puns like that. And, since this dish was very cheesy, I told him I would include it in the blog, even though I think it's a "groaner" in terms of names for dishes.
Saturday we spent the morning at the Autumn Brew Review, which was great, but sampling craft brew from 86 different brewers, starting at 10am, can make for a long day. So we napped for a significant portion of the afternoon, and I was looking for a dinner I could throw together. To be honest, I forgot to plan anything for dinner, and didn't plan to go to the store until Sunday morning, but I had been dreaming about something we refer to as "Crack and Cheese", which is a version of macaroni and cheese that originates from a Martha Stewart recipe. It has 5 different kinds of cheese, and almost requires you to float a loan from the bank to make it. It was very yummy, but I didn't have what was needed to make it.
So, I pulled all the bits of cheese I had in the refrigerator, and set to making this. I realize, I am probably the only person on earth who has an entire container of ricotta cheese just sitting there, waiting for something like this, but there it was (sorry Ray, no ricotta stuffed squash blossoms after the garden froze this week).Here it is:
Bacon Mac and Cheese
1/2 pound of bacon, fried crisp
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated provolone
4 ounces grated cheddar
16 ounces ricotta cheese
3/4 pound penne or macaroni
1/2 cup each panko bread crumbs and shredded parmesan cheese
Start a pot of salted water boiling for your macaroni. Melt butter in large sauce pan, and add flour. Combine and stir until it just starts to brown. Add milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Reduce to a simmer and simmer just until it starts to thicken,then add all of the cheeses. When all of the cheese is melted and combined, stir in bacon and turn heat as low as it will go. Keep the sauce just warming until your pasta is done.
Cook the pasta until just underdone. Drain, and add cheese sauce. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. top with panko and parmesan, and bake at 350 for half an hour until browned and bubbly.
This is even good the next day, it sucks up all the yummy cheese sauce, and Ray even likes it cold !