Southwestern Bacon Mac & Cheese

Happy Fourth of July! Here’s a recipe to make you regret your holiday! Hurry hurry! There’s still plenty of time to make this, and it is a huge crowd pleaser–perfect for a holiday potluck! Every once in a while I have to remember the world doesn’t revolve around me. (I know, I was super surprised too. LOL). Jim and Karen had 3 pounds of bacon in the fridge and I hadn’t made meat for my man in a few days. Luckily I have access to search engines like Google. One of the first recipes that came up was from a blog that I hadn’t heard of yet called “Our Life in the Kitchen.” Well, you should definitely check out this blog if you haven’t yet. It’s quite lovely and they take great photos of their creations. Anyway I used their recipe for Bacon Macaroni and Cheese as a base for my own recipe. Follow the link to see their recipe (and the great step-by-step photos they have!). My alterations are below. You’ll see I added a bit more spiciness to my own version. I wanted to add in kidney beans as well, but I’d made a bunch of beany things the past week and I think people were getting all beaned out. So I gave them a day off. I tried adding yellow cornmeal instead of bread crumbs and really liked the result. It made for a chewy topping that I thought was pleasant (Yes, I DID taste this, to make sure it was okay. I taste everything I make, even if I don’t eat meat. I will still taste a bite to make sure it’s not awful). This is not a healthy recipe. This is a heart attack on a plate. You’ve been warned.

Southwestern Bacon Mac & Cheese

Southwestern Bacon Mac & Cheese
1 pound bacon, reserve the grease
1 pound Cheddar cheese, grated
1 pound PepperJack cheese, grated
1/2 cup flour,
3 1/2 cups milk
16 oz. macaroni
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 3/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1. In a large frying pan or medium saucepan, fry the bacon till crisp. Remove the bacon strips and let the strips drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon fat.
2. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in the same pot as you made the bacon, add the flour and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the milk and continue cooking and stirring till the mixture is thick and smooth.
4. Add half the cheese and season with black pepper and chili powder. Continue cooking over low heat and stirring till the cheese is all melted and everything is thoroughly mixed together.
5. Crumble the bacon.
6. When the pasta is finished, drain it and mix it with the cheese sauce.
7. Pour half of the mixture into a casserole dish. Top with half of the leftover cheese, half of the bacon, and dot with salsa. Repeat. You can do this in 2-3 layers, however you prefer. On the top layer, add the bacon, cheese, and salsa and then cover with yellow cornmeal. If you want, you can mix some basil and black pepper or chili flakes into the cornmeal as well.
8. Bake 30 minutes, or till the macaroni dish is bubbly and golden brown on top. Serve hot.

So good it’s dripping over the sides.

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