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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is a recipe I made for a lunch at church.  It was a big hit!  Enjoy!

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients:

1 pound elbow macaroni

kosher salt

4 cups milk

2 sprigs thyme

2 cloves garlic, smashed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 ½ cups extra sharp white shredded cheddar

2 ½ cups sharp white shredded cheddar

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

4 slices bacon, chopped and fried until mostly crisp

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 cup sharp white shredded cheddar

leaves from fresh thyme (about 1 tsp worth)

½ cup melted butter

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 7-8 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain the bacon grease until you have about 2 tablespoons. Saute the onions and garlic in the bacon grease until soft. Add the onions and garlic to the bacon and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk with the sprigs of thyme and two smashed cloves of garlic. After the milk is warm but not scalded, melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming. Strain the thyme and garlic out of the milk and whisk slowly into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk and cook until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir for one minute. Off of the heat, stir in the five cups of cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and parsley and fold until all the macaroni is coated. Stir in the bacon mixture. Pour into a 13×9 pan (preferably Pyrex).

In a bowl, mix the bread crumbs, 1 cup cheese, thyme and melted butter. Sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8.

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