My husband has a few dishes that he is really, really good at. I loooove it when he decides, usually on a Sunday, to make one of those few coveted dishes. One of them is Mac n’ cheese. He is always great about sprucing it up with additional ingredients, and this time it was cauliflower and bacon.
I love the bacon, but if you are a vegetarian it is really easy to omit this and have just as delicious a dish.
He chose to include the cauliflower because I brought home a 5 lb cauliflower head! My kids saw all of these huge cauliflower in the store and they went nuts! I couldn’t help it- I found one of the bigger ones and hauled it home. The 4 cups of florets called for in this recipe didn’t even make a dent!
(monster cauliflower half as big as coco)
I am sure that I will have to find more cauliflower dishes to make in the next week. But until then, this will have to tide you over. Penne, tender cauliflower, salty bacon and a wonderful, rich and creamy sauce with a hint of red pepper. Delicious.
By the way- sorry the pictures aren’t super comprehensive- my husband was getting annoyed at me being in his kitchen. Oh, and I missed pictures because someone had to keep coco from going up and down the stairs nonstop. must get baby gate…
Pete’s Mac n’ Cheese
1lb of penne
4 cups of cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 oz bacon
¼ cup of butter
¼ cup of flour
3 cups whole milk
8oz gruyere, shredded
8oz jack cheese, shredded
1/8 tsp cayenne powder
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp garlic powder
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2oz jack cheese(for garnish before it goes into the oven)
½ tsp chili powder (for garnish before it goes into the oven)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pan, cook the bacon over medium heat, rendering all of the fat and cooking until crispy.
Drain the bacon and chop. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Put the cauliflower florets in the boiling water and let simmer 60-90 seconds. Remove the cauliflower with a strainer or slotted spoon and rinse with cold water in a colander.
Set the cauliflower aside.
Bring the water back to a boil.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy pot. Add the flour and using a whisk, mix the butter and flour together until it smooth. Let the sauce cook for about 4-6 minutes or until the sauce is still pale, but the raw flour taste is gone.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook it a few minutes less than al dente.
Meanwhile, add the milk to the roux, and stir well until all of the lumps are out. Add the cheese, red pepper and garlic powder. Stir really hard until the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain the penne when done.
In the large pot with the sauce, mix the pasta, cauliflower and bacon with the sauce. Toss to coat.
Prepare a 9×13” glass pan, greasing it with a tablespoon of butter. Add the pasta, cauliflower and bacon, all tossed in the sauce to the pan. Top everything with the remaining 2 oz of shredded jack cheese and sprinkle it with chili powder.
Bake the Mac n’ cheese at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the top was golden and crispy on top.
Serve Hot and Enjoy!