At our Thanksgiving dinner, anything goes. So for a riff on a traditional dish, we sought out Chicago food blogger Lottie + Doof (a.k.a. Tim Mazurek). He serves this mac ’n’ cheese in place of mashed potatoes at his Turkey Day table. It’s got spice, bite, and crunch — just the way we like it.
Mac ’n’ Cheese (Lottie + Doof Style)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3 slices bacon, diced
1 c. yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (less if you can’t take the heat)
2 small garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 c. whole milk
1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz. cream cheese
3 c. coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
¾ c. panko (The Japanese breadcrumbs are available at Whole Foods; no substitutions.)
½ c. fresh parsley, chopped
1 lb. penne
1. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp.
2. Use slotted spoon to remove bacon. Drain on paper towel.
3. Remove all but about 3 tbsp. fat from pan. Add onion and saute until tender (about 5 minutes). Add red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir for 1 minute.
4. Stir in 2 tbsp. butter until melted. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 3 c. of milk; simmer until thick enough to coat a spoon, stirring frequently (about 5 minutes).
5. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan, cream cheese, and 2¼ c. of cheddar. Return bacon to sauce and season with salt and pepper.
6. In a separate large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp. butter. Add panko and stir until light golden brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and set aside.
7. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish (or similarly sized gratin dish). Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water until very al dente. Drain well.
8. Toss pasta with cheese sauce. If needed, season again with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Top with panko mix and remaining cheese.
9. Bake 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
We bet you’ll like it a Lottie (come on, ’tis the season).
For more cooking inspiration, go to lottieanddoof.com.
Photo: Tim Mazurek