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Chef Gina Makes Bacon Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Images courtesy Chef Gina

There is perhaps no other food that screams “nostalgic comfort” to me more than Mac-and-Cheese. Mac-and-Cheese is my go-to when sick, or sad, or just want something that will hit the spot. Because I love it so much, I have experimented with different recipes over the years, adding more grown-up ingredients, trying different types of cheese, and different cuts of pasta. And while I truly love all of the iterations I have made, this mushroom, bacon, 2-cheese mac is one of the very best. My toddler, my finance, and my friends all rave about this version – so I make a huge batch so that we can enjoy leftovers! 

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Images courtesy Chef Gina

Bacon Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 60 min

Makes: 8-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 LBS. ELBOW PASTA, OR PASTA CUT OF CHOICE (SEE NOTES) 
  • ½ LB. BACON, CUT INTO BITE-SIZED PIECES
  • 6-8 OZ. (1 CLAM SHELL) WHITE MUSHROOMS, SLICED
  • 1 TBS GARLIC, MINCED 
  • 2-4 TBS BUTTER, SEPARATED
  • 1/3 CUP FLOUR
  • 2 CUPS HEAVY CREAM 
  • 2 CUPS WHOLE MILK, SEPARATED 
  • SALT & PEPPER, TO TASTE 
  • 2 CUPS CHEDDAR CHEESE, SHREDDED 
  • 2 CUPS GRUYERE CHEESE, SHREDDED
  • ½ CUP BREADCRUMBS
Images courtesy Chef Gina

Directions

Images courtesy Chef Gina

Tips

  • While you can use any cut of pasta you prefer, the “curlier” the cut, the better as it holds on to more sauce. My personal favorite cut of pasta is Cavatappi, although I can’t always find it. However, elbow always works. 
  • You can make the pasta the day before.
  • You can also use any type of mushroom that you’d like. I like baby portabella for this recipe as well.
  • I usually don’t rely on a ton of fancy kitchen tools as most are just gimmicks BUT a flat whisk for making the cheese sauce really helps here. A regular whisk will certainly work but harder to get into the “corners” of the pan to fully incorporate all ingredients 
  • You can also use 2% milk but I wouldn’t use skim or nut-milk alternatives, the fat in the whole milk contributes to the creaminess of this dish. 
  • You can use sharp or mild cheddar. I happened to have mild on hand but sharp will give even a cheesier taste to the dish. Again, feel free to experiment with different, melt-able cheeses of your choice. 
  • When making this for myself, I actually don’t use the breadcrumb topping at all. My fiancé likes the breadcrumbs as it adds a contrasting texture but there is no culinary need for them, it’s simply a personal preference and if cutting down on steps, this one could certainly be left out.

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