Ultimate Bacon-Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
An easy comfort food dish of macaroni, crisped bacon, and spicy jalapeños, smothered and baked in a Challenge Dairy butter-based 5 cheese sauce.
- 16 ounces large elbow macaroni
- 1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2" slices
- 2 large jalapeños, deseeded and diced
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
5 Cheese Mornay Sauce
- 1 stick Danish Creamery unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup diced white onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 8 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups shredded)
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 4 ounces gouda cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Make the Panko-Cilantro Topping
Remove all but 1/4 cup of the bacon fat from the pan, reserving the remaining fat in the event you need it as you prepare the topping.Add the panko and red pepper flakes to the fat in the pan and toast the mixture-stirring frequently- for 2-3 minutes. The breadcrumbs should glisten slightly and shouldn't look dry. If some of the crumbs do appear to be dry, pour in the reserved bacon fat- a tablespoon at a time- until the bulk of the breadcrumbs are glistening. After a few minutes, add the chopped cilantro (or parsley) to the mixture. Continue toasting the breadcrumbs until they are golden brown and smell slightly nutty, about 1-2 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the breadcrumbs to cool while you prepare the mornay sauce.
Assemble and Bake the Macaroni and Cheese
This recipe can be divided for smaller families.
The cheeses listed can be altered for your favorite hard and soft cheeses- see recipe in post.
Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours. Reheat by adding a small amount of water to the macaroni and heating until warmed through in a microwave.
Freeze the macaroni and cheese in a freezer-safe dish prior to baking. When you're ready to bake, allow the casserole to thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before baking as instructed.