This year has kinda sucked, so I’ve fallen back hard on recipes I already know how to make, and haven’t really pushed myself to try many new ones. But I saw this about a month ago, and felt like this would be a fun riff to try. And with the cold turn that finally came this weekend, this seemed like the perfect thing to make for the week. This is definitely getting added to my long term repertoire – it is the good shit.

A few variations: I used smoked cheddar instead of the recommended medium cheddar, used gigli from Trader Joe’s for the macaroni, held off on the cayenne, and didn’t quite get the toasted panko right. But oh man. Bacon, cheese, and a good kick from the kimchi that gets mellowed out by the dairy a bit. You could probably add a dash of shichimi togarashi for a more interesting kick. I’ll try it with the next batch.

Bacon and Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • .5 lb macaroni of choice
  • 5 T unsalted butter, divided into 4 T and 1 T
  • 4 T flour
  • 2.25 c whole milk
  • 1.75 c shredded smoked cheddar cheese (recipe recommends a medium cheddar, go with whatever cheddar your heart desires)
  • Pinch ground pepper and sea salt
  • 2/3 c chopped kimchi
  • .75 c panko
  • (1 t cayenne, gonna try shichimi togarashi next run around)

Heat your oven to 400 F, place the bacon slices on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake for appx 15 mins until done to your preference. Set aside and cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and while you wait for that to happen, chop up your bacon. Add your macaroni of choice and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside (pic 1).

In a large pot (possibly the same one), melt 4 T of unsalted butter over medium high heat, and once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly to make a roux (pic 2). Slowly add the milk to the roux in the pot, continuing to whisk until the sauce thickens. Once thickened, add in the cheese and stir until it’s melted and smooth (pic 3), followed by the salt and pepper, and finally the bacon and chopped kimchi (pic 4). Finally, gently fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce (pic 5), and pour it all into a 9 x 13 in baking dish (pic 6).

Meanwhile, melt the remaining T of butter in the microwave, and then stir together with the panko and sprinkle over the mac and cheese. Bake for 15 mins until the cheese is good and bubbly and the panko are golden brown (pic 7).

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