Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Panko
Mario's Makeover: Moist and Crunchy Mac and Cheese
For the Topping:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 3 tablespoons of salt. Set up in an ice bath next to the stovetop. Cook the pasta to 2 minutes short of the package instructions and then remove to ice bath and chill, then drain and toss with 1 tablespoon oil.
- In saute pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain excess oil. When the bacon has cooled, crumble into small bite size pieces.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, nutmeg and paprika and stir for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, whisking constantly for ten minutes till its thickened, smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.
- Stir the Hellmann’s® and the grated cheddar (be sure and set aside 1/2 cup for later) and crumbled bacon into the cooled sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir the cooked and cooled penne into the cheese mixture and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheddar.
- For the Topping: In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and parmesan and then add the olive oil and toss till the texture of moist sand. Spread breadcrumb mixture over the pasta. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling inside with a golden brown crust on top . Remove from oven and allow to rest a few minutes before serving.