Take two of the creamiest, most comforting dishes you can think of -- macaroni and cheese and pasta carbonara -- combine them, and you get the mother of all decadent comfort foods: Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara.
There's cheese, lots of cheese; there's bacon; there's oooing and mmming in every bite. It's definitely a splurge meal, but one that's worth it for special occasions. It's one of my husband's favorite birthday meals.
This recipe is adapted from The Food Network, courtesy of the fabulous Bobby Flay.
Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-inch-thick piece pancetta (or bacon), chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 to 7 cups whole milk, heated
- 4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese, plus more for the top
- 1 1/2 cups Irish white Cheddar, plus more for the top
- 1 1/2 cups Mountain Valley Cheddar, plus more for the top
- 1 cup grated Fontina cheese, plus more for the top
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for the top
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
- Handful of frozen peas (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 3-quart baking dish and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
Add the garlic to the pan and cook until lightly golden brown. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 6 cups of the hot milk, increase the heat to high, and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs until incorporated and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme, cayenne, and all of the cheese until completely melted; season with salt and pepper. If the mixture appears too thick, add some of the remaining milk 1/4 cup at a time.
Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, reserved pancetta or bacon, and peas and parsley if you choose to use; stir until combined.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Combine together additional Asiago, Cheddars, Fontina, and Parmesan in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the macaroni.
Bake in the oven until heated through and the top is lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Image via gaku./Flickr