Please, please don’t hate me!
I mean, speakin’ of swimsuit season…
(I must be a sucker for punishment!)
Bacon and Sweet Corn Mac and Cheese!!!
Summer is the best time to take advantage of fresh sweet corn, right off the cob! And what better way to make a perfectly healthy food incredibly bad for you than to turn it into macaroni and cheese! Especially with bacon.
I believe we’ve been through this before, but just in case—I’ll say it again.
Bacon. Makes everything. Better!!!
With that in mind, bacon is how I started this recipe.
Dice up ½ pound of bacon and throw it into a large Dutch oven. Render slowly over medium heat until the bacon is crispy brown and delicious. But don’t eat it all. Yet.
While the bacon is rendering, cook a pound of pasta until just short of being al dente (when you bite into it, you want to see a bit of uncooked pasta in the middle…) Use something fun…macaroni…spirals…wagon wheels…you know what I mean! Drain it and rinse under cold water, then set aside while you make the cheese sauce!
Cut the kernels off of three good-sized ears of corn (remember the bowl trick I talked about when we made the sweet corn and poblano salad? I used it this time. It worked much better.) then run the back of your knife down the ear to get all the delicious, sweet, creamy “milk” out of it.
Also, dice up an onion and a jalapeno (if you feel like it. I felt like it.) and mince a few cloves of garlic.
Seed and dice three tomatoes…they’ll add amazing color and some juiciness, and a wonderful acid to offset all that creamy sauce!
And grate up a big ol’ pile of cheese!
I used an 8oz brick of extra sharp cheddar, an 8oz brick of Monterey Jack, three slices of white American (because it felt right!) and about 6 tablespoons of cream cheese.
I used 2% Monterey Jack. Because, you know, I’m on a diet.
By now your bacon is hopefully irresistibly crunchy, but not so irresistible that you eat it all on the spot and have to start all over again. After running several miles on the treadmill to work off an entire half pound of delicious bacon!
Scoop out the bacon bits and set on a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but about 4 tablespoons of bacon grease (please don’t hate me!)
and add a the onion and jalapeno (if you feel like it. I felt like it!)
Let the veggies sauté and get tender, then add in the minced garlic and about ¼ c. of flour. Stir over medium heat until the flour is all mixed into the bacon drippings and has evenly coated the veggies (this’ll happen quickly…less than a minute).
Then pour in about 6 cups of milk (use whole. It’s the right thing to do. And please don’t hate me! I mean, at least I decided not to use the heavy cream! I’m really trying to be good here…) and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.
Let it boil for about a minute, then take the sauce off the heat and stir in salt and pepper, and a half teaspoon or so of nutmeg. If I’d had mustard, I’d have added a bit of that too. But I didn’t. Or rather, I did, but it smelled funny.
I mean, I don’t love the smell of mustard on a good day, but I really didn’t love the smell of this mustard!!!
Does mustard go bad? I really don’t know. But this sucker was about three years old.
Anyways, next add most of the cheese…(please, please, please don’t hate me!) and stir until the cheese has completely melted.
Then add the corn and tomatoes…
Stir it until everything is incorporated, then dump in the noodles and stir it all up. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour it all into a casserole dish, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top (oh, forgive me!)
and then top it all with those crunchy, crispy, beautiful bacon bits!
(I give up. You just let me know when you are speaking to me again.)
Bake it all in a hot oven until the cheese is melty and bubbly and magical.
For the love of all that is right and holy and good for you, serve this mac and cheese with a Big Fat Salad!!!
Or at least a heap of tangy coleslaw!
And there you have it!
BACON AND SWEET CORN MAC AND CHEESE!
1 lb pasta
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1/4 c. flour
6 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp whole grain or dijon mustard
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off and cobs “milked”
3 diced and seeded tomatoes
20 oz. grated cheese (your choice!)
4-6 oz. cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400º
Cook the pasta in boiling water until just short of al dente (about 3 minutes short of the total cooking time).
Brown the bacon over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. While it is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. When all the fat has rendered from the bacon and it is very crispy, remove the bacon bits. Pour off all but about 4 tablespoons of the bacon fat, and add in the onions and jalapenos. When they are tender stir in the garlic and flour and stir to coat the veggies. Pour in the milk, nutmeg, and mustard (if using) and stir constantly until the sauce comes to a boil, then let boil for a minute. Remove from the heat and add in all but about a cup of the cheese. Last add the corn and tomatoes. Stir it all up, then add in the noodles and stir it some more! When all the noodles are coated in that lovely sauce, pour the mixture into a casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese and the bacon bits.
Bake until the cheese is melted, bubbly and brown (about 15 or 20 minutes…the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce).
Serve with an enormous salad!
Eat and be happy!