Jalapeno Popper Bacon Mac and Cheese

SERVES 6 - 8  |  ACTIVE TIME 30 Min  |  TOTAL TIME 30 Minutes

16 ounces dry cellentani (corkscrew) pasta

16 ounces thick cut bacon, uncooked
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4-6 large jalapeno peppers, seeds and veins removed (diced)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt + more for pasta water
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups milk
8 ounces Wisconsin cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin mild cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Colby-Jack cheese, shredded

Bring an 8 quart covered pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add a handful of salt and pasta. Reduce heat to medium high and cook uncovered to al dente (has a bite to it). Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile warm a large 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Using clean kitchen shears cut bacon into bite size pieces over the skillet and let them to fall into the pan. Stir occasionally as needed. Cook until crisp.

While the bacon is cooking, shred cheeses and dice jalapenos. 

Once bacon is cooked through, remove bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and discard the rest. Wipe the side of the skillet to avoid flame ups.

Pour reserved bacon drippings back into the skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once melted add jalapenos and sauté until softened, 3-5 minutes.  Add flour to skillet and whisk to combine. Add salt and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine. Add cream cheese and stir until softened.  Allow to come to a bubble for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally to help pick up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Add milk. Whisk to combine. Bring back to a bubble and add cheeses.  Stir until cheese is melted and smooth.

Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon.

Add pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Add remaining bacon. Cook pasta in sauce for 5 minutes over medium heat until sauce thickens and the pasta has a chance to absorb some of the sauce.

Sprinkle with reserved bacon. 

Serve and enjoy!

Cook's Note's
Recipe can be halved.  Simply use half of the ingredients.

Sauce will thicken as it cools. If sauce is too thick, add milk ½ cup at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.

Reheat instructions: Add pasta to pot with milk. Heat until warmed through, adding ½ cup of milk at a time until desired constancy is reached.

Freezing instructions: Allow pasta to come to room temperature. Place in resealable plastic bag or container. If using a container press a small piece of plastic wrap over top to avoid freezer burn. Will keep for up to 6 months. To reheat, that pasta and follow reheat instructions.
Recipe developed by Donna Elick - The Slow Roasted Italian
Copyright ©2014 The Slow Roasted Italian – All rights reserved.