Ale and Bacon Mac and Cheese


Ingredients:

6 tablespoons salted butter, divided, plus more for dish

1/2 pound smoked bacon

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups half and half

12 ounces brown ale, such as Bass

1 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated and divided

1 lb macaroni or ziti pasta

Directions:

Dice raw bacon and add to a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until bacon is brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked bacon to paper towels to drain. Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease from pan, leaving all the brown crispy bits. Heat the half and half and beer in a separate saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining four tablespoons butter to rendered bacon fat, and allow to melt. When the butter and bacon fat bubbles, whisk in flour, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the brown crispy bits, and stir until combined, with no lumps remaining, about one minute. While whisking, slowly pour in hot half-and-half and beer mixture. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, 3-1/2 cups cheddar cheese, and cooked bacon; set cheese sauce aside. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add pasta; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. Transfer pasta to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir pasta into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and bread crumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

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