Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Smoked Gouda and Swiss Rigatoni and Cheese with bacon

Although my kids had always preferred the box mac and cheese, I was never overly fond of it.  Being on a budget, of course, meant that we ate a lot of it while the kids were growing up. I was ever so thankful when I was able to start making homemade macaroni and cheese.  Hubby likes it to be super creamy and would rather it not be baked.  No problem! I wanted to try making a recipe using smoked Gouda (don't know why really, it just sounded like something fun to say!) and I  came a cross this recipe here at Cooker Girl's blog.
I switched it up just a tiny bit using ingredients I had on hand.  The end result was this creamy, smokey, rich mac and cheese.  It was the perfect meal for such a bitter cold day.
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Smoked Gouda and Bacon Rigatoni & Cheese 
1 pound rigatoni
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
2 Tbsp unsalted butter 
1 shallot, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 
1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
1 1/2 cup whole milk 
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 oz shredded smoked Gouda 
4 oz shredded swiss
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 shallot and garlic; cook for 3-5 minutes to sweat them out... watch so that the garlic does not burn! 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 cheeses 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 to your taste and serve immediately.

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