BACON BROCCOLI MAC AND CHEESE

Bacon broccoli mac and cheese loaded with broccoli and topped with crispy bacon… this cheesy comfort food is ready to rock your face off! My family goes nuts over this easy macaroni and cheese casserole!
For a food blogger, I’m a bit hopeless. No matter how hard I try to be inventive for you guys, I usually wind up making the same few meals over and over again. It varies season to season, but  it’s essentially a lot of the same song and dance. When we buy broccoli, for instance, it’s usually with a set purpose in mind: as a dunker for ginger dressing and hummus, as the star of my soup, and to pimp my pizza.
Today I got sassy. It’s been far too long since I’ve made mac and cheese and the craving hit me like a mac truck.
Well, technically a mack truck full of mac, but in my book that makes it a mac truck.

BACON BROCCOLI MAC AND CHEESE

Ingredients
  • 3-4  slices cooked bacon
  • 5-6 oz freshly grated cheddar cheese (see notes)
  • 3 cups broccoli florets (steamed or blanched)
  • 8 oz dry pasta
  • 1/4 cup  unsalted butter
  • 1/4  cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (room temperature or warmed)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp  garlic powder
  • 1/8  tsp black pepper
  • additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired

Instructions
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Measure out all your ingredients, chop your broccoli, and grate your cheese.
  • Boil pasta per package instructions (times will vary a smidge by brand/shape) until al dente. Drain and set aside one done.
  • While the pasta cooks, start your sauce and broccoli.
  • Cook broccoli via your favorite method. I'm a big fan of quickly blanching broccoli in boiling hot water until the florets turn bright green and tender.
  • For the sauce, melt 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup) over medium heat.
  • Add flour and whisk constantly while the flour cooks off into a roux, approx. 3 minutes. 
  • Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, to taste.
  • Slowly pour in your room temperature milk, whisking constantly until smooth and fully incorporated. Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken  as it rests.
  • Add pasta and broccoli florets to a 9-inch baking dish.
  • Sprinkle 5-6 ounces of freshly grated cheese on top of the pasta.
  • Pour your cream sauce over the noodles and cheese. Use a rubber spatula to fold it all together. Feel free to top with a little extra cheese if you'd like, then top with bacon.
  • Bake on center rack at 350 F for 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly.