Do you remember when you were kid growing up in America and you saw that nice blue box of dried macaroni and cheese powder stuff? And you couldn’t wait for that creamy cheesy pasta to touch your childhood tastebuds, right? It was pretty delicious back then. But, have you tried the same thing now? Eh, not so good… Our palette has grown more mature so that means some of the food that we loved as a child should be mature as well. Enter this version of Mac & Cheese.
It’s been deemed “Adult Mac & Cheese.” First, the cheese itself gets upgraded from regular cheddar cheese, to a more gourmet fontina and smoked cheddar cheese blend. Then some additional adult ingredients getting added in such as applewood bacon, spinach, shrimp and a little bit of a spicy kick. Put it all together and you get this creamy yummy sensation on your now matured tastebuds.
Ingredients: (I doubled the recipe because I was making this for a potluck)
1 16oz box of pasta (I used medium shells. Use any pasta where sauce can get trapped in)
1 10-oz package of applewood bacon
10 large shallots, minced
2 clove garlic, mined
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cup white wine ( I personally like to use vermouth )
1 quart cream
2 cup grated fontina ( a good substitute is gouda)
1 cup grated smoked sharp Cheddar
4 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano
36 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups gently packed baby spinach
Kosher salt and ground pepper
Sriachia hot sauce, to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
There is a lot of prep work so I suggest the following:
– If you can, get uncooked shrimp that are deveined already. Peeling can be quick, but deveining takes a long time. The process of deveining is removing the intestinal track of the shrimp along the back. Make sure you leave no black stuff behind.
– Grate all the cheeses first, put it together in a container and store in the fridge until you need it.
– Mince the shallots and garlic together and set aside.
– Lastly, work on the bacon.
Set the stove to medium high heat (7 on my electric stove). Fry the bacon until all the fat renders out and is crispy. Make sure you are stirring to prevent burning. I use my trusty wooden spoon for this.
Now add the spinach, shrimp and cheeses to the mixture. Even though the pan is not on the heat anymore, the mixture still has residual heat and will be able to melt the cheese and cook the shrimp. This is important so the shrimp doesn’t overcook and turn rubbery, and the cheese can melt evenly into the mixture. Fontina cheese melts very nicely. The cheddar cheese didn’t.
Putting it together:
Preheat the broiler.
This is a tried and true recipe for me, so I’m able to figure out what ingredients to switch out for different flavors.
— Pasta: Shells, bowties, curly pasta
My favorite: Curly pasta, I like it in the grooves
— Nice melting cheeses: Gouda, Fontina, Mozzarella (not the fresh kind)
My favorite: Gouda
— Wine substitutes: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Vermouth
My favorite: Vermouth
— Bacon substitutes: Applewood bacon, smoked bacon, ham
My favorite: applewood bacon
— Spicy substitutes: Sriacha, Tabasco
My favorite: Tabasco, I just like the vinegary taste of Tabasco