The inspiration for this dinner was that Mile's Market had Yancey's Fancy Smoked Gouda with Bacon on sale. I grew up in Western NY near Kutter's Cheese (now Yancey's Fancy) so I got a kick out of finding it in Cleveland at Miles Market a few years ago. They usually have the horseradish or wasabi varieties, so when I saw the smoked gouda, I had to try it. I went home and searched for a macaroni and cheese recipe to use it.
In my opinion, it's the cheese that really makes a macaroni and cheese. I'm happy to report that Yancey's Fancy has got some excellent flavor going on with the Smoked Gouda with Bacon. This recipe makes a very creamy and deliciously smoky mac n cheese. Since the cheese had bacon in it already, I opted to skip the bacon in the recipe, but next time if I just have regular smoked gouda, I'll definitely try it with the bacon.
Smoked Gouda and Bacon Mac & Cheese
Adapted from The Adventures of Mindyanna Jones
1 pound whole wheat shells
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small sweet onion or 1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
8 oz shredded smoked Gouda
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
4-6 slices crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, cook, drain and crumble the bacon. Once the water is boiling, add salt to season the cooking water, then add the pasta. Cook for 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Drain well and return to the pot.
While the pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat with the butter until it melts. Add the onion and shallot and cook for 3-5 minutes to sweat them out. Raise the heat a bit, then whisk in the flour, cayenne, and paprika. Whisk together until the roux bubbles up, then cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in the milk and stock and raise the heat a bit higher to bring the sauce to a quick boil. Once it bubbles, drop the heat back to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the cheese to the thickened sauce and stir to melt it, a minute or so. Stir in the mustard and bacon and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Pour over the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Adjust the seasonings and serve.