Recipe: Beer’n’Bacon One Pan Mac’n’Cheese

A few weeks ago I was asked what I would choose my final meal to be. I didn’t hesitate; W’s cheesy pasta bake, made with frankfurters and bacon. I’ve posted the recipe before; it’s a rich, comforting dish that requires a lie-down after eating. And it’s utterly delicious. It hasn’t, however, stopped me making virtually ever new mac’n’cheese recipe I come across.

 photo Beer MacnCheese_zpsxhe0gorz.jpgI’ve done a One-Pan version, a Healthy Twist, one to use up a Leftover Cheeseboard. This one is a new favourite. Based on the BBC GoodFood recipe, we found the original version wasn’t quite cheesy enough, was a bit watery, the cooking times were way off and it lacked bacon. Our version is majorly cheesy, with a thick sauce and dotted with salty bacon. It’s definitely richer, but the beer element cuts through the cheese and adds a lightness which works well. Surprisingly well.

The ale adds a sweetness, but also a sharpness. This particular one was also a little citrussy. It feels as though it shouldn’t work, but it does. With a huge amount of cheese in the sauce it needs the beer to prevent it being too heavy. It makes the sauce smooth and creamy, without being overly rich. The bacon adds a salty crunch, though of course could be left out for a veggie option. Most of all, though, this is just a delicious meal. Well worth it!

 photo Beer MacnCheese2_zpso7mme39g.jpg photo Beer MacnCheese6_zpsmfk3k6el.jpgIngredients – Served 2 as a side to Fried Chicken

  • 2 rashers bacon
  • 35g butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 250ml milk
  • 125ml pale ale – we used Brewdog’s Dead Pony Club, which I actually really enjoyed as a shandy alongside dinner!
  • 120g macaroni
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • 100g mozzarella, grated

Melt the butter over a low heat with the garlic, and slowly cook until soft and just beginning to turn golden. Pour in the milk and beer and bring to a gentle bubble. Add the pasta and stir occasionally for around 10 mins until the pasta is cooked and covered in sauce. As it is cooking, grill the bacon until crispy, then leave to cool slightly.

Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the bacon (torn into bitesize pieces), spinach, most of the cheddar (leave around 25g) and half the mozzarella until melted. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top and pop until the grill under golden and slightly crispy.

 photo Beer MacnCheese8_zpscqfwzpxc.jpg photo Beer MacnCheese10_zpsehs9ptd1.jpgEnjoy with plenty of salad, some fried chicken, and the rest of the beer. Ideal for a Friday night treat – this slightly lighter version will definitely be my summer mac’n’cheese recipe of choice!

Are you a mac’n’cheese fan? What would be your last meal?