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      Ale and Bacon Mac and Cheese

      Ale Mac and Cheese
      Ale Mac and Cheese
      Ingredients:6 tablespoons salted butter, divided, plus more for dish1/2 pound smoked bacon1/2 cup all-purpose flour4 cups half and half12 ounces brown ale, such as Bass1 teaspoons salt1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/2 teaspoon paprika4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated and divided1 lb macaroni or ziti pastaDirections: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.