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French Bistro Mac & Cheese w/ Lardons

by Julie Hartigan of Cooking w/Julie
Channel cozy French Bistro vibes with this super-flavorful version of everyone’s favorite comfort food! A mix of nutty imported Comtè, luscious creamy imported Camembert, and tart earthy imported Bucheron cheeses meld into a luxurious sauce while crispy bacon and buttered breadcrumbs lend a decadent finish.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine French

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb elbow or other small macaroni cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 lb thick cut or slab bacon cut into 1/4” thick slices
  • 4 TB butter
  • 4 TB flour
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 cups shredded imported Comtè
  • 1 cup crumbled imported Bucheron or other goat cheese
  • 1 8 oz wheel imported Camembert rind removed, cut into chunks

Optional topping

  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
 

  • Cook bacon over medium-low heat in a large saute pan until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. 
  • Melt butter over medium heat in a large pot. Whisk in flour and cook, continuing to whisk for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic and slowly whisk in milk, mustard, and salt until incorporated. Add bay leaf and thyme and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low, discard bay leaf and thyme, and stir in mix of cheeses until fully melted. 
  • Add cooked macaroni and bacon to sauce and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • For ultra creamy Mac & Cheese, serve as is topped with toasted panko and parsley. Or to serve gratin-style transfer to a large buttered baking dish or multiple buttered ramekins. Combine panko, butter, and salt and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly, top with parsley, and serve.

Notes

Chef Tip: Have fun with other additions to this elegant dish! Try sautéed mushrooms, roasted Brussels sprouts, cubed cooked squash, shaved truffle, or even cooked lobster chunks.
Keyword French Bistro Mac & Cheese with Lardons, imported bucheron cheese, imported camembert cheese, imported comte cheese
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