This post has been rattling around in my head for well over a year. I wish I had written it sooner.
Those of you who follow my social media feeds know that from time to time I like to make Macaroni and Cheese and my version happens to include Maple Cheddar and Bacon. I am particularly proud of it because I don’t really develop my own recipes but usually follow recipes to the letter, and this one is completely my own. Well, except for one inspiration, my Mom.
When we were kids my Mom made this simple but tasty dish. Back then it took a lot of time because she grated all the cheese by hand. That was before you could buy bags of grated cheese, and this dish takes a lot of cheese. She would work until her hands got sore and then she would ask one of us to finish. The other thing that posed a challenge was how picky our family is. Half of us like onions and half do not so she made half the dish with and half without, faithfully making a mark with the cheese so we would know the difference. And of course she always made cornmeal muffins to go with it, for me they just go together now. On our birthday’s Mom always made our favourite meal, this one, hands down, was mine.
Then I grew up and moved out. I forgot about the Mac’n’Cheese in the excitement of my first apartment and new life. But soon enough I was craving it again and I asked Mom to show me how to make it because the recipe was all in her head. She of course did and we made it together.
From time to time I would start making it at home but forgot what was next so I would call Mom and she would guide my way. I never wrote it down because I kind of liked an excuse to call her and talk about life as well as the recipe.
And then as I became more familiar with the recipe I started to think why shouldn’t I try a different version of this. I made it with the onions, next was trying it with different cheese, then I thought a Tex Mex version might be fun with peppers.
All of these were good but it wasn’t until I discovered Maple Cheddar at Sylvan Star Cheese that I stumbled upon my next great inspiration. I thought, wouldn’t a little bit of this be great in the cheese mix and, oh , what goes well with maple, well bacon of course. Then I started to test a little with Mom’s recipe and soon enough I came up with the winning combination.
And now I make this all the time. It’s the perfect thing to serve when I have company. I can make it all ahead of time and then when my guests come I can pop it in the oven and enjoy their company while supper bakes. It is also really great to make on a gloomy Saturday afternoon to bring comfort and joy to your day.
In a way this recipe is a lot like my Mom. It’s not very complicated but when you put it all together it has a lot of heart and shows a lot of love. I wish I had written this post sooner.
Maple Bacon Mac’n’Cheese
1 package of Maple Bacon (or any kind of bacon)
4 cups of dried Elbow Macaroni
1 cup grated Maple Cheddar
1 large bag of shredded Cheddar (I like Medium Cheddar and sometimes I have 2 bags on hand)
Non-stick cooking spray
2 cups Milk
2 tablespoons Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
You will also need a 9” X 14” casserole dish
- Pre-heat oven to 350°.
- Fry bacon in pan until it is crispy. When it is done remove from pan and put on a plate lined with paper towel to blot the grease. Leave the bacon and let it cool.
- While you are making the bacon, put a large pot of water on to boil. Throw a pinch of salt in the water. When water reaches a full boil put the macaroni in the water. Boil the macaroni using the instructions on the box. Stir occasionally. Don’t let the macaroni get too soft. When it is done cooking drain macaroni in the sink with a colander. Let the macaroni cool.
- While the macaroni is cooling, grate maple cheddar and leave to the side.
- Take cooled bacon and chop or break into bite sized pieces and leave to the side.
- Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Now start to build the dish. Start with half the macaroni; lay it in the bottom of the casserole dish until it covers the entire bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the surface evenly with salt and pepper. Then evenly sprinkle half the bacon on top of the macaroni. Sprinkle ½ cup of maple cheddar on top of the bacon. Take half of the bag of shredded cheddar and spread evenly on top of mixture.
- Repeat step number seven and build a second layer. Depending on how much cheese you like you may want to have a second bag on hand so you don’t run out.
- Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over entire surface of second layer. You don’t want to have too much, 2 tablespoons should be enough.
- Pour milk evenly over the entire dish to bind the ingredients together.
- At this point you can cover the dish and put in the fridge until you are ready to cook or put in a pre-heated oven to bake. You will need to leave it in the oven at 350° for 45 minutes or until the cheese on top is brown and golden.
- Take out and let cool for 5 minutes then enjoy.