I am going to confess something that might alienate 👽 everyone. I might be making the biggest mistake of my life, and cementing my citizenship in Lonerville. “Go big or go home” right? Anyway, here it is: I’m not a member of the bacon 🐖 fan club. GASP!!!
Okay, so it’s not that groundbreaking. I’ve just never really found my love for bacon. There is certainly nothing wrong with it, and it doesn’t make me want to gag. I’ll even concede that it adds a necessary depth to certain recipes. But, I don’t eat bacon by itself, and I don’t crave bacon (except when I’m pregnant, but that’s another story entirely 😉). All of this apathy probably stems from my deep seeded dislike for cooking bacon. Not only is it one of the messiest things to cook, but it’s also one of the worst things for a very disaster prone human (ME,this gal, not good 👎👎👎) to be around. I always get splattered with hot bacon grease…ALWAYS.
That being said, I bought bacon the other day because it’s one of Tyler’s favorite things. And since the mother of all colds hit our home this week, and we’re all feeling as good as a snowman that’s been out in the sun for too long ⛄+🌞=💩, I thought some extra comfy comfort food was in order. What could possibly be more comfort giving than macaroni and cheese loaded with bacon? It’s a childhood nostalgia thing, mixed with a “creamy, fatty, cheesy, goodness” thing. The perfect way to fight back when life decides to throw the flu your direction when you don’t even have a Walking Dead to keep you distracted.
Back to this mac and cheese though; it was really good, and that’s coming from this indifferent-to-bacon gal. The secret is in the bacon grease based cheese sauce. After finally cooking an entire pound of bacon (successfully avoiding any splatter burns) I looked at all of that untapped potential just sputtering away at the bottom of my pan. It seemed a shame to pour it down the drain. So instead, I wisked some flour into it and started to make my cheese sauce.
When I make mac and cheese, I like to add as much of a healthy edge as possible to what is traditionally a very unhealthy dish. Like I said before, it’s an excellent comfort food. But since I hold the power in my kitchen 💪, I get to turn the gluttonous mac and cheese into a protein packed, low(er) fat, still creamy and delicious version! I used a container of low fat cottage cheese, which has more protein and less fat, while maintaining a nice mild cheesiness. Sometimes I throw some greek yogurt in to add even more protein, but I didn’t have any on hand this time around so I used a can of condensed soup instead. What is lost in health points, is made up for in flavor 💥.
Something I’ve found to be important when adding bacon to mac and cheese is that it should be extra extra crispy. Otherwise it loses some of it’s integrity after being mixed in. The crispier, the better! I’ve also found it easier to chop 🔪 my bacon before cooking it. Remember how I dislike cooking bacon in the utmost way? When I pre-chop the bacon, it’s slightly less annoying. So if you share my feels, give it a try!
- 1 lb macaroni pasta
- 1 lb bacon, chopped
- 1/4 c bacon grease
- 1/4 c flour
- 1 1/2 c milk
- 1 c shredded cheese
- 1 t salt
- 1/4 t pepper
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 16 oz cottage cheese
- 10 3/4 oz healthy request condensed cheese soup
- 1/4 c bread crumbs
- 1/4 c parmesan
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Chop the bacon (optional) and cook bacon until very crispy. Reserve approximately 1/4 c of the grease.
- In a med/large sauce pan cook the bacon grease and flour until smooth.
- Wisk in the milk and cook until it thickens.
- Add in the shredded cheese, salt and pepper and stir until smooth and creamy.
- In a food processor, puree the cream cheese and cottage cheese until smooth, then add to the saucepan.
- Finally stir in the condensed cheese soup until it is smooth.
- Toss the sauce and the cooked pasta until it's evenly coated.
- Pour into a large casserole dish and top with the bread crumbs and parmesan.
- Bake for 30 mins, or until the topping is golden brown.