Jalapeno & Guanciale Mac n’ Cheese

As I sit here writing my FIRST BLOG POST (eeeeeeeek!!!) i’m realizing that not only am I about to talk about the food I cook, but i’m watching an episode of Diner’s, Drive-in’s, and Dive’s (if you know me well enough, this is pretty typical).

I figured i’d start with a classic dish I don’t make all that often (because I try not to be TOO unhealthy) but also, because I actually did make this just the other night for my fiance and her family for Mother’s Day.  As far as I know, they thought it was good (I also ate about 4 separate meals worth of it) and I thought it was quite delicious if I do say so myself.  Actually, I used bacon the other night instead of Guanciale, but this picture is from when I made it all fancy and did it up with that glorious pork jowl.

I’m not the best at writing down what I do as far as creating a recipe (in fact, I don’t write anything down while i’m cooking) since I usually just “wing it”.  But for giving some guidance to create this dish at home, here’s a basic recipe (i’m sorry its not in depth, maybe one day i’ll be better at this and add a video or something) but i’ll try to estimate measurements the best I can:

Basic Ingredients/estimated measurements:

  • 1 Pound of Pasta (shells, penne, etc.)
  • 1 Quart of Milk/Cream
  • 2 tablespoons of Flour
  • 24-32 oz. of shredded Cheeses (cheddar, Asiago, pretty much whatever you like)
  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Jalapeno (seeded to take out some of the heat, and chopped)
  • 1 package of Bacon or pork jowl (pre-cooked)
  • 1 cup Panko Bread crumbs (I seasoned mine with some dried italian herbs)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Here are some of the basic steps to putting it together (again, not in greatest detail, but to give an idea of the process):

  1. Boil pasta in salted water, drain, and set aside while doing these other steps
  2. cook up bacon/pork jowl and render it down until crispy, then chop it up into tiny pieces
  3. in the same pan (getting rid of some of the bacon grease that was rendered out), saute up slightly the jalapeno
  4. toss in butter to melt, and sprinkle in flour to start a “Roux” which will help thicken the sauce up, and let this cook out that raw flour taste (stirring consistently in pan)
  5. then pour in Milk and stir while bringing to a boil
  6. turn heat back down to medium (sauce should be pretty thick and creamy in texture)
  7. add salt and pepper to season that sauce mix up (adjust amounts to your preference)
  8. add in cheeses and stir until completely melted and smooth, taste again to see if it needs any more seasoning
  9. turn heat off and combine the sauce, bacon, and pasta stirring it all together.
  10. put into a baking dish (casserole type dish) and sprinkle the panko over the top evenly, drizzle with a little oil, or hit it with some spray oil, then bake it uncovered for approx 15 mins @ 350º F
  11. It should be golden brown on top, and all hot & bubbly inside
  12. Serve it up!

Obviously you can adjust all these to your taste, but thats what I did.  Now tell me that ain’t some of the tastiest homemade mac n’ cheese you’ve over tossed into your mouth.

feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think!



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