Just the other night, around 12:38 am, my Big Bunso approached me and said, “I am hungry.”
His two older brothers and father were at Baler for a vacation so we don’t have much cooked food at home. We only had a homemade cheeseburger for dinner and nothing was left for a possible midnight snack. My son checked our pantry and saw some sausages and microwave-ready Mac and Cheese. We cooked them and had one of our fun mother and son bonding moments.
Which reminds me. Chef Curtis Stone, head judge on LIFETIME’s sizzling new show Top Chef Jr., is dishing out recipes that both parents and kids can try together. Plus they are surely healthier with less processed food, very unlike the sausages and Mac and Cheese we had.
Top Chef Jr.’s Chef Curtis and his Mac and Cheese
Now, how do you make the world’s best mac and cheese? For Chef Curtis, it is the combination of Cheddar and Gruyere cheese put over the top. His mac and cheese isn’t baked, though. He relayed that he often make the sauce and cook the mac and cheese in the same skillet to save on cleanup. And when he serves this to a company, he just divides it among individual casseroles before broiling.
Allow us to share Chef Curtis’ Mac and Cheese with Gruyere, Cheddar, and Bacon. This indulgent, easy-to-make casserole will surely leave everyone asking for seconds—or thirds! I could imagine the smile of my boys. Each serving oozes with cheese and holds delightful morsels of flavorful bacon. Surely, they will have as much fun preparing as they will savoring it.
Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
- ½ cup chopped shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream, or as needed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 ½ cups whole milk, or as needed
- 1 ½ cups shredded Gruyère cheese (about 6 ounces)
- 1 ½ cups shredded white Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound penne
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for the baking dish
- 2/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Mac and Cheese preparation
Preparation Time: 15mins
Cooking Time: 30mins
- Heat a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving the drippings in the saucepan. Add the shallots to the saucepan and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking, for about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream, then bring the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium heat and simmer, whisking often, for about 10 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil). Reduce the heat to medium-low and gradually whisk in the Gruyère and Cheddar cheeses. Remove the pan from the heat and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper; it will seem thin at this point.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the penne and cook, stirring often to prevent it from sticking together, for about 8 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain well.
- Stir the penne into the hot cheese sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin it as desired with more milk or cream. Stir in the reserved bacon. Season to taste again with salt and pepper.
- Position the broiler rack about 8 inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or individual crocks. Spread the penne mixture in the baking dish.
- In a small bowl, toss the panko, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and melted butter to mix well. Season with salt and sprinkle evenly over the penne. Broil, while watching closely, for about 2 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Let it stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.
Chef Curtis’ summer recipes for kids
Chef Curtis has still a lot of summer recipes for kids. We will share them with you in the next few days. But for more tiny chef inspiration, tune in to Top Chef Jr. on LIFETIME from Tuesdays to Thursdays at 8 PM. Watch some of the most talented young culinary masters from around the US prove that they’ve got what it takes to be the next generation of Top Chefs.
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wow ang sarap naman. pasta lover ako eh! haha
Anyway, I’m giving away a mermaid tail blanket! You might want to join in. 🙂
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That Mac n’ cheese looks delicious – way better than anything you get in a box. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I will have to try to make this one day.
I LOVE homemade Mac and cheese and this looks delicious. It has bacon and yummy cheese, what’s not to love? I’m adding this to my “to try” list!
We make Macaroni & Cheese on special occasions because it’s so rich and so good! I like for the family to cook together. When my kids were small until now (they’re adults), it’s a great time together.
Oh wow!! I remember when Curtis Stone first came on tv! We love mac and cheese. I’m going to try this recipe for my kids. Looks super delicious.
Ooo, this mac and cheese sounds super yummy! Also that’s awesome that you cooked your son a midnight snack . . . when I bothered my mom in the middle of night I got a bowl of cereal LOL.
That Mac and Cheese looks so yummy I will have to give this ago for sure.
Thanks for sharing this delicious looking Mac n Cheese dish. I love Mac n Cheese and the fact that it is from a top jr chef. What a treat this will be. Yum yum!
Oh my gosh, I wish I had found this recipe before I just went shopping. I just got the ingredients to make homemade mac n cheese but I can tell you from your ingredient list (especially bacon ), yours would be much tastier than mine. If I wasn’t running late (death in family and cooking), I’d go back and get the stuff to make this vesion.
Mac and cheese is a staple around here. But this is a serious upgrade to what I normally serve! I love the crunch of bread crumbs in it.
I love Mac and Cheese! I’m going to have to give this a try because it looks AMAZING!
My daughter would love this recipe. Looks like it would be a lot of fun to make at home. I will have to try this out with her. She would enjoy it.
That Mac and Cheese and all that extra stuff makes it even more special! Yummy!
How cute is this?! I want to make this mac and cheese!
Such a fun show and that Mac and cheese looks wonderful! Can’t wait to give it a try!