Serves 6 to 8
Adapted from: Anne Burrell
Originally from August 214 on my old blog
This recipe does not need an explanation or convincing of why you should make it. The pictures should be enough.
My sister is a picky eater. She’s eighteen, and leaving for college in two weeks. Every time I try to cook something I have to run it by her to make sure she would actually be up to eating it. I was in the mood to make something fun. Shrimp and grits, I asked her? Nope. What about about fried chicken and waffles? No thanks. Recipe after recipe, she said no, because she and I both know that if she keeps saying no, eventually I will offer up to make pasta, and that’s all she ever really wants. So, pasta it was that night.
But I didn’t want something fancy or something I would have to slave hours in the kitchen for. Simple comfort food, that’s what I was in the mood for. And what’s more comforting than pasta, cheese, and bacon?
- 1 pound shells or other short pasta
- 9 slices bacon, cut crosswise into ½ inch strips
- 2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 2 cups freshly grated Fontina cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 quart whole milk, plus more as needed
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a large saucepan, add the bacon, and bring to medium heat; stir the bacon occasionally. When it’s brown and crispy, after 6 to 8 minutes, remove it from the pan, drain on paper towels, and reserve the bacon fat.
Add the butter and onion to the pan with the fat, season with salt, and cook until the onion is soft and aromatic; 8 to 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes until the mixture looks like wet sand. Slowly whisk in the milk, season with salt, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes more or until the mixture looks slightly thicker than heavy cream.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Ad the pasta to the water and cook for one minute less than the package directs you to. Drain the pasta and reserve.
Add the Cheddar, Fontina, and Parmesan to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Add the dijon mustard; taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Add a little more milk if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in the cooked bacon and pasta (or, if there isn’t enough room in the pan for the bacon and pasta, which there was the case with me, just dump it all into a big bowl). Mix well. Serve immediately or transfer to a baking dish or ramekins and reheat in a 375 F oven.