Mac & Cheese Carbonara

By • March 2, 2015 3 Comments

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Author Notes: I know I’ve cultivated a bit of a persona on here; the wise-cracking yet grumpy old man who yells at you to get off his porch but makes you some cupcakes on your way out. There’s the ranting, the waving of arms and spatulas, and various other less-than -subtle ways I’ve gone out of my way to tell you lovely folks “hey, you’re wrong, now cook it the right fucking way damnit”.

But there’s a lot of good in the kitchen, even if you do fuck things up every now and then. There’s the glorious idea that you can make whatever you damn well please, in whatever order, and no-one can stop you. There’s a Thomas Keller recipe you like but you think he’s secretly a hack, and that you could do better if you just omitted the key ingredient? Do it! Who cares if you’re wrong?

You’re a god in your kitchen, and the ingredients are the tiny denizens praying that you don’t crush them and add them to your pate à choux.

It’s not just comforting to know that you can comb through the annals of culinary history and rewrite it however you want; it’s powerful. You, you get to look classic recipes, recipes that have lived and died as surely and ugly as the people who ate them did, in the eye and proclaim “I can do better.” And granted, most of the time you won’t; you’ll fuck it up and realize that Julia Childs was right and I’m an idiot and why on earth wouldn’t I do the damn chicken like she said. But it’s worth it for that one time when you do get it right. When you put two things together that have no business being neighbors in the same sentence, let alone the same plate, and it ends up being a shining instance of gustatory gestalt, the feeling is immense.

Powerful.

I’m not saying this week’s recipe gets quite up to that level, but…well, yeah, yeah I am. I did play god in my kitchen, and I made something that’s better than the sum of its parts, even if most of those parts are cheese. I’ll give myself a hand for that one.

Now worship me, tiny denizens.
Fresh Beats, Fresh Eats

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Serves 10

  • 2 cups mlik (2%)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup parmesan (for carbonara sauce)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan (for bread crumbs)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup havarti
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup peas (they don’t have to be cooked, but if they’re frozen make sure they’re thawed, we don’t want any chipped teeth up in here)
  • 10 strips peppercorn bacon
  • 2 eggs
  1. First, cook up the pasta (and make it al dente damnit, anything more is floppy, wiggly bullshit) and get the bacon in a pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350.
  3. Get a medium-sized bowl and whisk together the heavy cream, eggs, 1/3 cup of parmesan, and some salt and pepper.
  4. Next we’re gonna make a roux, the mother of all delicious sauce-related things. Melt the butter on medium-low heat, then add the flour and stir for a minute.
  5. Add the roux to your bowl of creamy, eggy goodness, and whisk like a madman until it’s fully mixed together.
  6. By now the pasta should be ready and drained, otherwise you’re a horribly slow cook. Add half of your sauce to the pasta and stir until it’s fully incorporated, then add the other half along with the peas, cheddar, and Havarti. Make sure you crumble up that bacon and put it in there too, then put the heat on low and stir until everything’s melted and mixed together.
  7. In another small bowl, mix together the panko and remaining ¼ cup parmesan.
  8. Pour the pasta into a baking dish, then cover the top with the now-gloriously-parmesanned bread crumbs.
  9. Stick it in the oven for 25 minutes, and try not to burn yourself by instantly wanting to plunge your face into the deliciousness.

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