If you asked me to name my top 10 favorite foods, mac and cheese and bacon would be in the top five. When I came across a recipe that had mac and cheese, bacon and a little whiskey, how could I resist? I wouldn’t typically add whiskey to mac and cheese, but when I read the rational, it made sense and I became very curious. Thus, I decided to make a smokey bacon mac and cheese. I think I was, even more excited because you make this mac and cheese in a case iron skillet and I’m so into my iron skillet right now.
I will fully admit that this dish hit every craving I was having, especially my craving for comfort food as the temperature outside started in the 50s and 60s but quickly dived down into the 30s and 20s. Unlike my usual mac and cheese, this recipe is completely made on top of the stove, so the cheese stays nice and creamy and clings to the bacon nicely. The whiskey added to the smoky cheddar and the peppered bacon complimented this even further. Ideally, I wanted to put the skillet in my lap and eat the pan myself with a fork, but remember that I had to share with my son. Luckily, the whiskey was no stronger than cooking with wine, so it was safe enough for him to eat. There was enough going on in this mac and cheese that it can serve as a main dish along with a veggie. This recipe will find itself in my mac and cheese rotation very soon!
Smokey Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 12 ounces smoked peppered bacon , uncooked
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup Whiskey
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups milk
- 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar (white), shredded
- 2 ounces smoked cheddar cheese , shredded
- 2 ounces Asiago cheese , shredded
- 8 oz dry elbow pasta
Bring an 8 quart covered pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add a handful of salt and pasta. Reduce heat to medium high and cook uncovered to al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile warm a large 9” skillet over medium-high heat. Cut bacon into bite size pieces over the skillet and let them to fall into the pan. Stir occasionally as needed. Cook until crisp.
While the bacon is cooking, shred cheeses and prepare remaining ingredients.
Once bacon is cooked through, remove bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and discard the rest. Wipe the side of the skillet.
Pour reserved bacon drippings back into the skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once melted add flour and whisk to combine. Add spices, Worcestershire, whiskey and chicken broth. Whisk to combine. Allow to come to a bubble for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally to help pick up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Add milk. Whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and stir for one minute. Remove the pan from heat and stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Add pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Add bacon. Return the pan to heat and cook pasta in sauce for 5 minutes over medium heat until sauce thickens and the pasta has a chance to absorb some of the sauce.