The “mother of all comfort foods”, would be one way to describe this dish, or a “skillet of pure love” might be another. Creamy macaroni and cheese, poured into a flaky pie crust, topped with a woven lattice of bacon, and baked until bubbling, golden, and crisp, now what is there possibly not to like about that? nothing I say. This bad boy has definitely secured a slot on my favorite comfort foods list. I know, I know, while this golden goddess of goodness has ranked high on my charts, it is possible it will never appear on the Eat to Win list. But hey, every once in a while is OK, just remember one of my favorite mantras, “Everything in moderation…………..including moderation”.
To prepare Mac-n-Cheese Pie with Bacon Lattice:
Cooks note: Use whatever mac-n-cheese recipe is your favorite. While I believe that things made from scratch are better, this recipe can easily be put together using a refrigerated pie crust, and some packaged mac-n-cheese.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoon flour
- ½ cup half-n-half
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups cheese, grated (cheddar, jack, Gruyère, or any combo you like)
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
- 1 pound pasta, (which ever shape you prefer)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 pie crust, (basic recipe here or refrigerated)
- 1 pound bacon, divided
Heat oven to 425°F.
Start by making a béchamel or basic white sauce in a large sauce pan over medium heat, with butter, flour, half-n-half and milk. When sauce is a thick, add mustard powder, tabasco, and black pepper (I avoided using salt, since there is plenty in the cheese and bacon). Add cheese a bit at a time, allowing it to melt as you go. Reduce heat and hold on low (if sauce appears too thick, you can add a bit more milk or half-n-half to thin).
Bring a stock pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about 8 minutes or slightly el dente. Drain, but do not rinse, and add to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine.
In another skillet crisp 3 – 4 strips of bacon. Remove cooked bacon from pan and place on a paper towel to drain. Crumble and hold aside. Add the diced onions and jalapeno to the bacon drippings and cook until onions become translucent. Add garlic and cook for about one minute to bloom. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add to the mac-n-cheese mixture.
Roll out crust and place in a cast iron skillet or pie pan. With a fork prick the bottom and sides of the crust. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Add panko bread crumbs to the mac-n-cheese, mix and pour into the pie shell.
Use eight strips of bacon, four each direction to weave a lattice top. Be careful not to stretch the bacon when weaving the lattice, this will reduce the amount of shrinkage.
Place back in the hot oven, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bacon is crisp and the cheese is bubbling. Allow to rest for 5 – 8 minutes before digging in.