Bacon Jalepeño Mac and Cheese has just the right amount of heat and salty crunch to make it the best homemade macaroni and cheese!
Bacon Jalepeño Mac and Cheese is good. So good that the husband and I found ourselves fighting over the leftovers. Just look at all that gorgeous jalapeño and bacon in the photo below [please do not look at the filthy cook top]. If I could import a smell and have it blow out of your phone, tablet, or monitor, I'd be wafting over the fragrance of jalapeño and bacon because it is one of the best combinations on Earth.
Bacon and jalapeño are one of the best flavor combinations out there. Use them to make stuffed chicken, stuffed burgers, deviled eggs, wrapped poppers, stuffed twice baked potatoes... you get the idea.
9 times out of 10 I make stovetop mac and cheese. Sometimes I sneak in some cauliflower or green veggies, but most of the time it's just good old comfort food. Occasionally I'll go the extra step to add a crumb topping and bake my mac and cheese too.
I'm very fond of the particular kind of pasta I used in this Bacon Jalepeño Mac and Cheese , as well. The stores I frequent don't actually have very interesting pasta varieties to choose from. I was at Target, of all places, when I found these delicious spirals. The first time I was introduced to this type of pasta was at an event in downtown Portland where a bunch of restaurants had you sample one small dish. One of these restaurants was serving up their homemade macaroni and cheese, and like the little piggy I am, I went back for thirds because it was so good. The noodle really does make a difference. This one is like a spiral water slide, but instead of water it holds a creamy gooey river of spicy bacon cheese. Drool.
How to cook amazing Bacon Jalepeño Mac and Cheese:
- Always cook pasta in heavily salted water. Use at least a full tablespoon per pound of pasta. Ensure the water is at a rolling boil before adding the pasta and use enough water to provide a good inch above your pasta.
- To cook your bacon on the stove top, use a heavy bottom pan like a dutch oven. Start off with reasonably high heat, and after it starts to sizzle, gradually reduce the heat. This will give your bacon a wonderful browned color and will perfectly render all of the fat without burning it.
- If you like things extra spicy, don't discard the jalapeno seeds. If you need the spice more tame in your Bacon Jalepeño Mac and Cheese, be sure to discard the seeds. Cooking the jalapeno in about a tablespoon of the residual bacon grease is the best way to soften it and bring out the flavor.
- I always recommend making a milk gravy before adding the cheese. Bringing the butter and milk to a boil first and then stirring in the cheese off the heat source makes an amazing cheese sauce.
- Be sure to use high quality cheese anytime you're making homemade macaroni cheese, whether it's stovetop mac and cheese or in the oven. My most favorite blend is a combination of gruyere and cheddar.
And because I couldn't resist, an extreme close up. One of the advantages to taking all my shots with my macro lens is that I can show you every chunk, spec, and slice of delicious food [right before I eat it].
Kitchen tools used to make Bacon Jalepeño Mac and Cheese:
Dutch Oven: I don't take this one camping. It stays in the kitchen. I absolutely love the heavy bottom and lid. You can really get a nice sear on meat and it's easy to transfer to the oven, if needed.
Cutting Board: These are my go-to cutting boards. They are super easy to clean, never hold a smell (onion transferred to apple is gross), and because they are so thin, they are really easy to store.
Knives: There is nothing more frustrating than having to use a poor quality knife. I've been using this set for years. I found it to be affordable yet incredibly durable and versatile. Whether you're filleting a salmon or slicing a super ripe tomato, these are great knives for the everyday chef.
Bacon Jalepeno Mac n Cheese
- 16 ounces pasta (I used organic trottole)
- 1 pound bacon ends and pieces
- 1 cup sliced fresh jalapenos (with seeds, stems removed (about 5 small))
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups shredded gruyere
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta to desired doneness. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon. When done, remove cooked bacon pieces and set aside. Discard bacon grease, reserving no more than a tablespoon in the pot. Add sliced jalapeno to remaining bacon grease with bacon. Cook over medium heat until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Add butter to mixture and allow to melt. Reduce heat to low and add milk and cheeses. Stir until melted. As soon as the cheese has melted and a sauce has formed, remove mixture from heat and stir in pasta. Enjoy!