This hearty Mac 'n Cheese, is the ultimate cold weather comfort food!
My kids have never really liked homemade mac 'n cheese. I blame my husband for tainting their taste buds with blue box mac 'n cheese. I grew up on blue box mac and thought it was the best thing, when I was little, but now that I'm older I prefer the homemade stuff. Though hubby loves mac 'n cheese from scratch, he also enjoys a good box of the fake stuff, which the kids have come to love. With Mr.B being older, he is now eating more foods he didn't like before. Like chili, enchiladas, and homemade mac 'n cheese. I remembered seeing a recipe in the Fall/Winter Pampered Chef catalogue for a Baked Mac 'n Cheese with Shrimp, so decided to make it last week.
I used the method in the recipe, but totally changed the ingredients. I added bacon and used some Smoked Gouda cheese. The result was amazing!! I also used the dish, they recommended, but you can used a good ceramic baking dish with lid and I'm sure the results will be similar. This recipe couldn't be more simple. I love that the pasta cooks in the cheese sauce, so it soaks up all that awesome flavour. Queenie still wasn't sure of the mac 'n cheese, but did love the shrimp and bacon. The rest of us heartily ate our dinner and Hubby and I enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day. The pasta was coated with a luxurious smoky cheese sauce, with a great sweet contrast of the shrimp. Not only did this taste insanely good, it also looked so good. Perfectly hearty for a cold winter night, which are not in short supply for us this year.
Baked Mac 'n Cheese with Shrimp and Bacon
adapted from The Pampered Chef
1 lb medium raw shrimp (25-30 count), peeled, deveined, tails removed
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6 Tbsp butter, divided
1/2 C dry white wine, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C flour
3 1/2 C milk, divided
1 Tbsp Honey Dijon mustard
1 tsp Cajon seasoning
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 oz uncooked pasta (I used fusilli)
2/3 C Smoked Gouda, shredded, divided
1 C medium Cheddar, divided
2/3 C panko bread crumbs
green onions or parsley for garnish
Season shrimp with 1/4 tsp of the salt, and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet with high edges, over medium heat; until bubbling. Cook the shrimp 2-3 minutes, until pink and cooked through, turning once. Stir in 1/4 C dry white wine; cook 1 minute. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon.
Add onion and garlic to the sauce pan and cook for 2 minutes; until onions become translucent. Add remaining butter and flour to pan; whisk 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, 1/4 C dry white wine, mustard, Cajun seasoning and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Cook, covered, 3-5 minutes or until mixture comes to a simmer, whisking often. Remove pan from heat.
Stir in pasta, 1/2 of the cheddar and 1/2 of the smoked Gouda. Pour into a 5 qt ceramic casserole dish and bake, covered, 30-35 minutes or until pasta is tender, gently stirring once halfway through baking. Meanwhile, combine bread crumbs and remaining cheeses in small bowl.
Remove dish from oven and preheat the broiler. Stir in shrimp and bacon, and top with bread crumb mixture. Place dish 2-4 inches from heating element and broil 2-3 minutes; until top is golden brown. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onion or parsley, before serving.
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