Baked Mac & Cheese: Prepare Yourself for Some Southern Flavor!
Updated: Nov 19, 2022
I have a confession to make: I like to put bacon in EVERYTHING! Okay, maybe that's not as much of a confession as it is just plain deliciousness.
"Good food and a warm kitchen are what makes a house a home." -Rachael Ray
Like some of my dessert recipes, I must give credit to my husband for this inspiration. One Thanksgiving, he walks in the kitchen and says "There better be Mac and Cheese this year or I'm calling your mother". Now, anyone who has met my mother knows that if you "tell on me", she still treats me as if I'm a 6 year old boy who smarted off to the teacher. "A hard head makes a soft behind" is her favorite go-to phrase. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore my mother and I probably talk to her every single day, but she is the epitome of a true southern mom.
Anyway, back to my Mac and Cheese situation: My husband and I LOVE cheese (and wine but that's another story for another time), so I couldn't just throw some cheddar in a pan with some noodles and call it macaroni and cheese. I wanted to create a recipe that made people close their eyes and savor that flavorful moment...and so my journey began.
I started by listing my favorite cheeses and researching the best cheese flavor combinations to include in my recipe. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are actually people who specialize in cheese tasting! Could you imagine getting paid to eat cheeeeese?#IVolunteerAsTribute
I like to make my own macaroni pasta but store-bought macaroni works as well. You do you, I'm not judging.
Don't try to cheat by using bacon bits out of a bag. Get fresh bacon, cook it and chop it up.
I like to serve mine with grilled chicken, it's absolutely amazing!
3 Cups (24 oz) Macaroni, uncooked
4 Cups Heavy Cream
4 oz Cream Cheese, room temp.
2 Cups (8oz) shredded Smoked Gouda
2 Cups (8oz) shredded Mozzarella
2 Cups (8oz) shredded Sharp Cheddar
½ Cup Bacon, cooked and chopped
½ Cup (8 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter
½ Red Onion, chopped
3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
2 Tsp Garlic Powder
2 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
If you use packaged macaroni, follow the directions on the package for cooking. (Save ½ a cup of the pasta water for later)
Melt butter in a large pot or skillet, then add chopped onions and minced garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.
Whisk in your flour and continue to sauté until it is slightly golden.
Next, pour in your heavy cream, ½ cup of saved pasta water and seasonings; lightly whisk until well combined. *Allow this to warm up before adding in the cheeses (about 10 minutes).
Stir in the cheeses until they are all melted and well combined, then add your bacon.
Next, add your cooked pasta and stir to combine.
Pour the mac and cheese into lightly greased baking pan, top with more cheese if you wish and bake at 375° F, 12-15 minutes until golden.
Add grilled chicken or any preferred protein if you want. Enjoy!