Monday, March 17, 2014

Four Cheese Bacon Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

Hello cheat day!  Oh how I missed thee.  When my sister called me this past Saturday and invited us over for some smoked barbecue, we were all in.  She asked me to bring a side so I instantly thought of making a mac and cheese to compliment the smoked meats they were making.  Plus, I had a friend on Facebook request a spicy mac and cheese recipe so I figured this would be the appropriate time to answer said request.   

My sister and her husband are amazing cooks as well.  They have a smoker and on this particular evening, they made smoked chicken legs and ribs.  Holy-moly was it good!  The thermometer almost hit 55 on Saturday so it was the perfect evening to chow down on some comfort food and wash it down with a few beers.  Spring is finally almost here!  

 Cook the bacon

Then drain and reserve the grease

 I used this type of pasta but good ole' elbow macaroni wold work fine as well

 Throw it in the water and boil

Slightly under cook the pasta since you will be baking it in the oven later

 Look at all of that cheese!  When I'm working with this much, I shred it in my food processor because it takes like 30 seconds.

 I only used one jalapeno and removed the ribs and seeds for a milder spice.  If you like it spicier, leave the seeds in.

 Bacon grease and butter... Clearly we are not going for healthy here

 Nothing smells better than onions cooking in butter.  Add the flour to make a roux.

 Cook for about 2 minutes to toast the flour and then add the milk

 Whisk the milk into the roux.  When the mixture comes to a boil, it will have reached it's full thickening point

 Now time for more flavor with salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire.  Again, add more hot sauce of you like it spicy!

 The sauce should coat a spoon

 Add about half of the cheese

 And finally the crumbled bacon

 Pour the sauce over the pasta

 Stir in all that goodness

 Now add the other half of the cheese... but save about 1/4 cup for the topping

 Spray a pan with some non-stick spray

 Time for the topping

 These is something special about a Ritz cracker topping...

 Add a little butter to help it brown

 Top the mac and cheese with the cracker crumbs then bake until brown and bubbly

Four Cheese Bacon Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
1 pound of bacon
1 1/2 pounds macaroni
1 pound pepper jack
1 pound extra sharp cheddar
1/2 pound Gouda
5-7 ounces fontina
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup bacon grease
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups whole milk
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease/spray pan.  I used a cast iron skillet and had enough left for another 9x9 pan.  You can also use a 9x13 pan.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Chop bacon into small, bite-sized pieces.  Add bacon to pan and cook until brown and crispy.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Reserve bacon grease.

Bring large stock pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 5-6 minutes until al dente.  Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Grate all cheese and place in another bowl.  To the same stock pot used for pasta, add bacon grease and butter and cook until butter is melted.  Add onion and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes, until softened.  Add flour and continue to cook for 2 minutes.  Whisk in milk and evaporated milk.

Cook over medium-high heat until sauce thickens.  Add hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.  Turn heat on low and add about half of the shredded cheese.  Whisk until a smooth sauce forms.  Add crumbled bacon and remove from heat.

Pour sauce over cooked pasta and gently fold to coat all of the macaroni.  Add the rest of the shredded cheese but reserve 1/4 cup for the topping.  Stir to combine. Pour macaroni mixture into prepared pan.

To the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese, add crushed crackers, butter and stir to coat.  Top the macaroni and cheese with the cracker topping.  Place  pan in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until brown and bubbly.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Garnish with some flat leaf parsley and serve to hungry guests!


  1. This was absolutely delicious…it was the creamiest homemade mac and cheese with the perfect amount of bacon and the jalapeño was not overpowering! Great recipe!

    1. Awww thank you Kristina! And thank you and Nick for making the BEST smoked ribs and chicken legs giving me an excuse to make this!

  2. Something seems off - I'm making it now. Tastes great so far, but I definitely need more than a pound of pasta! It's like a soup! Did you mean more pasta or less milk, perhaps?

    1. Hmmmm... I measured everything out so I'm not sure what is wrong. When it bakes, the pasta will absorb a lot of the sauce. Maybe try adding less sauce or spooning some of it out. I am so sorry you are having issues! I promise I always precisely measure and test my recipes before I post!

  3. Just found this again- Made this for Thanksgiving last year and am giving it to a friend for this year. Hands down the best mac and cheese Ive ever had.

    1. So glad you like it Ben! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!!


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