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Mac & Cheese with Bacon & Black Truffle

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 cups 12-ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 8 ounces dry penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons black truffle oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices uncooked smoked bacon chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves minced
  • 1 garlic clove pressed
  • ¼ tablespoon dried thyme plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Make topping: In a small bowl, combine butter, breadcrumbs, and ½ cup cheddar cheese; set aside.
  3. Cook pasta: according to package directions. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Toss the drained pasta with truffle oil and set aside.
  4. Prepare sauce while pasta is cooking: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic, and thyme; cook for an additional minute. Whisk in flour and cook an additional 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually add half and half and bring just to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring often, until sauce slightly thickens, approximately 3–5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and remaining 2 ½ cups of cheddar cheese; stir until cheese is melted.
  5. Finish: Remove pan with the prepared cheese sauce from heat; fold in the minced basil leaves and the cooked pasta.
  6. Bake: When ready to bake, divide the pasta mixture into individual baking dishes and top with reserved breadcrumb mixture. Bake for approximately 15–20 minutes until bubbly and top begins to brown.
  7. Remove from oven, garnish with more bacon and thyme, and serve.

Recipe Notes

This serves 4 as a main dish, or more if you are doing smaller servings. This can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days after Step 5, and baked when ready. To make this dish vegetarian, omit the bacon.