You know, I’m not sure what it is about kids and the out of the box fluorescent orange macaroni and cheese. My kids just love it. And when left to choose what they want in a macaroni and cheese dinner, ten times out of ten they are going to choose that darn blue box.
I’ll never forget the first time I made my kids home made macaroni and cheese. I took the true old school route. Like, first generation Italian immigrant old school route. I pulled out my pasta press, rolled out fresh sheets of home made dough, shredded three different types of cheeses and whipped up a cream sauce like no other.
That dish was like the freakin’ Mona Lisa of macaroni and cheese. You know what I mean? Labor intensive!
Once done, I pulled out my bubbling golden dish of pasta goodness and lovingly put it on the table. I was so sure that I was going to be inducted into the mom hall of fame.
Two bites into it, my oldest (then around 4 years old) looked up at me and asked if I could please make the blue box stuff next time. And that was the last time I made a true from scratch macaroni and cheese dish for my kids. At least with hand made pasta anyway.
Years later the kid’s palates have moderately improved. Not enough for me to make that particular dish again, but I’ve certainly convinced them to stray from the commercial mac-n-cheese now and again.
And this recipe today is our compromise. BLT Macaroni and Cheese. Few can balk at bacon in any dish and the addition of leeks and tomatoes are pretty acceptable to my kids.
Finally a macaroni and cheese dish that the whole family can enjoy. At least once in awhile anyway. The darn blue box still reigns supreme with my kids.
- 10 oz radiatori pasta (or any other shape that you like)
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 5 Tbsp flour
- ½ Tbsp powdered mustard
- 4 cups milk
- 6 oz fontina cheese, cubed
- 4 oz white cheddar, shredded
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 leek, finely diced
- Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook for four minutes. Add mustard, milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook for another three minutes. Reduce heat to low.
- In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from fat and crumble bacon, but reserve 1 Tbsp of fat.
- Cook leeks in the reserved fat until translucent.
- Add bacon and leeks and tomatoes to cheese sauce. Stir gently to combine.
- Grease 2 qt casserole dish. Pour in pasta and then cover with sauce. Gently stir to combine.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.