3-Cheese Tomato Bacon Mac & Cheese

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My grandmother made a mean macaroni and cheese dish that I still crave to this day. After she passed away in the mid-1980s, my mother tried to replicate her recipe. And although she came close, my mother's version was never the same. I'm fairly certain that my grandmother didn't follow an exact recipe but rather pinched, and eyeballed the ingredients to perfection. She nailed that dish each and every time. It was a basic mac & cheese base, and she added bacon and stewed or plum tomatoes to it.

Rather than try to replicate my grandmother's recipe, I decided to put a spin on it. I always loved the flavor that the tomatoes added to the mac & cheese, but I was never fond of the chunky tomatoes. When I recently discovered RAGÚ® Homestyle sauces,  I knew the Thick & Hearty Traditional sauce would be perfect for my adaptation of my grandmother's recipe. And the bacon? Well, bacon is bacon, so the more the better!

RAGÚ® Homestyle sauces have the same delicious and robust flavor as homemade sauces. The bold flavors are unmistakeable and the thick texture sticks to the pasta to ensure each piece is fully coated in flavor. There are 5 mouthwatering varieties to choose including meat and  mushroom flavors.

Three Cheese Tomato Mac & Cheese With Bacon

1/2 lb. bacon, cooked to desired doneness and crumbled (save 2-3 slices for topping)
8 oz. small shells or any small macaroni, such as elbows
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 TBS. + 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/4 cups milk
1 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
1/2 cup RAGÚ® Homestyle sauces Thick & Hearty Traditional

Topping (optional)
2-3 slices of cooked bacon from
2 TBS. butter, melted
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place bacon on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes or until desired crispness is reached. Remove and drain on a paper towel.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

4. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, mustard, and salt until combined.

5. Gradually whisk in the milk and heat until it thickens and slightly boils, being sure to continually whisk it.

6. Turn heat to low and add the cheese. Stir until completely melted.

7. Remove from heat and add the pasta and 6 slices of crumbled bacon to the cheese mixture. Stir to combine.

8. Add the Thick and Hearty Traditional RAGÚ® Homestyle sauce and stir to combine.

9. If using, combine the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl.

10. Spoon into a greased baking dish or individual baking dishes. Sprinkle topping mixture on the pasta. Bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

*Note: For a crusty topping, broil for 30 seconds after baking.

If you like this recipe, check out more Ragu recipes HERE (including pasta, meats, salads, soups, and appetizers).

To see the full line of RAGÚ® Homestyle sauces, click HERE.

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