If you are looking for an extra special version of Mac n Cheese to take to a picnic or party or special event – meet Jack Daniel’s Bacon Mac n Cheese.
We were heading to “The Best Book Club Ever” this weekend and were to bring wine and cheese or a cheese dish.
Well – knowing “The Best Book Club Ever” host’s love of all things Jack Daniel’s…
and pretty much everyone’s love of bacon – I couldn’t resist this combo to try out and take.
I found a recipe by Julie Espy of White Lights on Wednesday and tweaked it up Jodi-style, then doubled the recipe since we were feeding a crowd, and put it in the crockpot to keep warm after baking.
I have to say – it was a hit. What a yummy combination of bourbon soaked smoky bacon that gets candied with brown sugar and cayenne for a kick that stays with ya and creamy cheese and noodles.
This should probably not be on your regular weekly dinner menu (though you may want and crave it after experiencing) because it is only low-fat and low-calorie when served at parties….
But when partyin’, it goes great with an icy glass of Jack and lime.
If you want a crowd pleaser, make this for your next gathering!
Jack Daniel’s Bacon Mac n Cheese
1 lb thick sliced bacon
½ cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey + 1 Tbsp
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound macaroni pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (do not use pre-shredded cheese in the bag!)
1 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
1 lb ball fresh mozzarella cheese, broken into pieces
½ teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup Jack Daniel’s to a boil. (WATCH CAREFULLY – and cover with a lid. I didn’t put a lid on mine and was making double. I put it on to boil, turned around, and when I looked back, a flame 2 feet high was rising from the boiling alcohol. No worries – we all survived – just lost a little Jack in the process.) Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until reduced to 2 tablespoons. (My flaming alcohol reduced very quickly, but I don’t recommend that method!) Remove from heat. (I really think you could make this without even heating the Jack and may just skip next time, so feel free to do that if you prefer.)
On a plate, combine brown sugar and cayenne. Dip bacon into Jack Daniels and then press each side into brown sugar mixture to coat. Place on a baking sheet (with sides if you don’t want bacon grease and alcohol dripping in your oven). Bake for 7 minutes, then flip and bake for about 5 more minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate coated with non-stick cooking spray to cool. Chop bacon when cool.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain pasta; set aside.
While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add flour, and whisk to combine. Add 1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s and whisk into roux. Whisk in 1 cup milk until combined. Add remaining milk. Whisk frequently until sauce thickens and begins to bubble. Add cheeses; whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth. Add paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over pasta, and add chopped bacon. Stir until pasta is completely coated in sauce.
Bake for 30-40 minutes uncovered until top begins to brown and cheese sauce is bubbling.
Cheers & Hugs,