I figured it was time to eat some bacon. I mean it’s been a whole week.
And what better way to eat it than with lots of cheese and Brussels sprouts?
My thoughts exactly.
I know. The Brussels thing is still weird but I am hooked. We will get over it eventually.
But wait, before we get to all that, today is my dad’s birthday! It’s a big birthday too. This has been THEE year of the big birthdays. Just not mine. It’s always been fun to have our birthdays so close together, and that just means one big weekend of celebration coming on up.
p.s. he probably wouldn’t touch this trashed up mac and cheese with a ten foot pool, but I will continue to try.
It’s actually kind of hilariously appropriate that I’m sharing this skillet o’ love today given that last night I ate some of the best Brussels sprouts of my life. They were fried, no less. Shocking? Nah.
I’m so gonna attempt a redo. In the meantime… we have this.
It’s a little bit of a cop out recipe, given that it’s essentially a copy of my autumn mac and cheese from three years ago. THREE years ago? What the heck. Where is this time going. I don’t understand. I swear I just made that yesterday.
I’m just going to stare at myself in the mirror today and shout STOP GROWING! and hope that it helps.
This version is also made in my trusty cast iron skillet, mostly because I adore this skillet mac and four cheese recipe so incredibly much. And it’s easy. And it’s different. And it’s cute!
Things just taste better when they come out a of skillet. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Oh, um, also? Making this in a giant skillet gives more surface area for crunchy topping. You know crunchy topping. The topping that I single-handedly and selfishly consume before most people even get their first serving of pasta? Yeah. That crunchy topping.
Crunchy topping for liiiiiiiife.
1 pound of cooked pasta, smaller noodles desired
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound of brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced/chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half and half
8 ounces fontina cheese, freshly grated
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat a large, 12-inch oven-safe skillet oven medium-low heat and add bacon. Cook until the fat is just rendered, then removed about 1/4 of the bacon and set it aside in a bowl. Cook the remaining bacon until completely crispy. Add in the shallot, garlic and brussels spouts, stirring well to coat. Cook until the brussels soften, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and toss the pasta in with the brussels.
To make the cheese sauce. heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once it's sizzling, whisk in the flour to create a roux and cook until it is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the milk and the half and half, stirring the entire time and cook until it is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fontina, cheddar and parm, stirring until the cheese is melted. Stir in the nutmeg. Once the cheese is melted, pour it over the pasta in the skillet and toss well to coat. Add the panko and fine breadcrumbs over top of the pasta and sprinkle on the bacon that your set aside earlier.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.
I ate all of that. No shame.