A little over a year ago, my better half and I chose to become plant-based eaters for the most part. I say “most part” because of Bacon, you can’t just give up bacon. It’s not meat right? No, it’s MEAT CANDY. After being pretty strict for a year, we are now more of the meat-as-a-special-occasion/meat-on-the-side/what-the-hell-were-we-thinking/bacon-is-always-allowed crowd. Also I’m pretty sure cheese comes from a plant.
I have a wealth of delicious, plant-based, healthy recipes in my repertoire, however this is not one of them. When you don’t post on your blog for over 4 years (unless you count the dozens of amusing, witty, and very brilliant entries I meant to write down at 3am), you must go big-- not like “Big Salad" Elaine style-- it’s a salad, only bigger with lots of stuff in it, but BIGGER. Like fancy pants Chipotle Bacon Mac and Cheese.
For those of you noshing sans Gluten, this recipe is easily adaptable.
- 6 bacon strips (I prefer the thick-cut applewood smoked from Trader Joes)
- 1 pound cavatappi, or penne, pasta – sub Gluten Free pasta if desired
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup flour – sub rice flour, or another Gluten Free flour if desired
- 3 cups Milk (I used 2%, but can use whole)
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 4 slices mild cheddar (or if you have other sliced cheese such as Swiss, or American, you can substitute)
- 3 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
- 2 tablespoons adobo (from the chipotle pepper can)
- 1 ½ cups kettle cooked BBQ potato chips, crushed
Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with Aluminum foil. Place bacon strips on foil and cook until crispy, 20-25 minutes. It’s the easiest way to cook bacon and no cleanup! Transfer to paper towel-lined plate, then crumble.
Cook the cavatappi in boiling salted water for 6 minutes. It should be al dente (aka still slightly firm). Strain the pasta and run it under cold water to prevent it from sticking together.
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Now it’s time to make the badass cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan/pot over medium heat. I prefer an enamel covered cast iron dutch oven, but another saucepan will work as well. When melted, whisk in the flour. Allow the roux (this is the fancy name for the butter-flour mixture) to cook for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until golden and bubbly.
Slowly add the milk and allow it to simmer, whisking constantly until thickened, up to 8 minutes. Your sauce should now be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Reduce the heat to low and slowly mix in 2 cups of the sharp cheddar cheese and the cheese slices.
When all of the cheese is incorporated, mix in the chopped chipotles, adobo sauce, and crumbled bacon.
Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and mix until the pasta is coated. Pour your mac and cheese into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. I used a standard lasagna baker.
Top the mac and cheese with the remaining cup of shredded cheddar.
Pour the crushed chips in an even layer over the cheese.
Transfer the mac and cheese to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve hot and get weird.