The last time I made macaroni and cheese, I used cheeses that were honestly kind of pricey. Was the mac and cheese awesome? Yes, it was. However, you don’t need expensive cheese to make a ridiculously good mac and cheese. In this recipe, I used an English Coastal White Cheddar, Bacon Cheddar, and a store brand white cheddar cheese. The combination of those three cheeses make this my favorite mac and cheese recipe of all time. Yes, even more than the pricey version.
The coastal white cheddar had the strongest flavor and was easily distinguishable in the mac and cheese. The others just gave the dish depth of flavor while also balancing out the strong white cheddar flavor. I even added this mac and cheese to some Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers.
Macaroni and cheese can be heavy when eaten by itself. Therefore, I like to add protein to the pasta. Then you can fill up on protein rather than only starch.
This pasta is also filled with bacon and shallots. The shallots have a great ability to incorporate themselves into a sauce, while adding a savory onion flavor. They are sweeter than onions and are my go-to when a recipe calls for onions.
Be sure to check out my other Mac and Cheese recipes under the sharing buttons below.
- 10 slices thick-cut bacon
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 350 g milk
- 15 g sodium citrate
- 375 g shredded white cheddar cheese
- 250 g dry macaroni
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Cut the bacon into lardons and place into a cast iron skillet. Render the fat over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, until golden and crispy. Reserve 1 tbsp of bacon fat in the cast iron and place the lardons on a paper towel to drain fully. Sauté the shallots in the bacon fat over medium heat until soft. Set aside.
- Preheat an indoor grill or pan over high heat. Add the chicken breasts and grill until fully cooked. Once cooked, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Prepare the macaroni according to package instructions.
- While the macaroni is boiling, prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, add the sodium citrate to the milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve the sodium citrate. Once at a simmer, reduce the heat and add the cheese. Stir until smooth or use an immersion blender if nessessary. Add two-thirds of the bacon, shallots, chicken, and stir.
- When the noodles are al dente, drain and add to the cheese sauce. Stir and pour into a cast iron skillet or oven-proof bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs and melted butter, then sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. Place the cast iron skillet or bowl under a broiler set on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and serve immediately.