Hard Apple Cider Mac and Cheese (with Bacon!)

Happy Mac and Cheese Week Friday, everyone! (Today should have a cool TGIF acronym…TGIMACWF? …I’ll work on it). Today is one of my faaaavorites – hard apple cider mac and cheese!

Today is the last (but most DEFINITELY not the least) of a weeklong tribute to the greatest comfort food in the world – macaroni and cheese. And it’s probably been my favorite week of all time. I’m thinking there should be themed weeks of posts more often…hmmm….so stay tuned.

This recipe is one of my most-requested among the special few I’ve cooked it for, and although I try not to practice mac and cheese favoritism  (all mac and cheese is excellent), this is (*gasp*) PROBABLY one of my top two favorite mac and cheese recipes. You wouldn’t think adding apple cider to pasta would blow your mind with deliciousness – but OH. IT DOES. Plus, it’s one more thing I get to put booze in. And you know how that makes me happy.

So, friends, from me to you – HAPPY MAC AND CHEESE WEEK. I hope you’ve enjoyed these five days of mac-and-chees-y-ness. I know I have. Now go make this for dinner! You SO won’t regret it.

Hard Apple Cider Mac and Cheese (with Bacon!)
 
YIELD: Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb. pasta (I used large shell pasta)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • ⅔ cup hard apple cider (I like this one from Angry Orchard. A LOT)
  • 1 and ⅓ cup milk (I use skim)
  • 2 and ⅔ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ lb. bacon
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. First, cook the bacon. I usually cook mine in the oven or on the stovetop.
  2. Chop the cooked bacon into small, “bacon bite” like pieces. Set aside.
  3. Cook pasta in very salty water until 4-6 minutes less than al dente (you’re going to bake it later, so by undercooking it now you’re making sure it isn’t soft or mushy when it comes out of the oven!)
  4. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Whisk flour into the butter to form a roux and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Whisk hard apple cider into the roux a little at a time until you’ve worked out all the lumps. Then whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened, about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese and mix until cheese has melted. Stir in pepper.
  7. Stir all but one handful of the bacon pieces into the sauce. Set the extra handful of bacon aside for topping the pasta before you bake it.
  8. Stir pasta into sauce until all noodles are evenly coated. Pour pasta into a baking dish (you can use one large one, although I chose to use four smaller ones – up to you!) and top with the bacon you set aside.
  9. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until edges are crispy.

 

 

MAC AND CHEESE WEEK LINEUP!!!

Monday – Jessie’s Classic Spicy Mac and Cheese

Tuesday – White Cheddar Avocado Mac and Cheese

Wednesday – Beer Mac and Cheese

Thursday – White Cheddar Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese

Friday – Hard Apple Cider Mac and Cheese (with Bacon!)

Comments

  1. beckey says

    What do you think if I made this the day before with the exception of the baking part, then baked it right before I served it the next day?

    • Jessie says

      Go for it! I do it all the time and it works great. Just be sure not to put a cold pan into a hot oven or it can break – I like to let the cold mac and cheese warm up on the counter for 10-20 minutes, then put it into a cold oven and preheat the oven with the mac and cheese already in it. You have to keep a bit of a closer eye on it as it cooks, but it makes me feel better and less like I’m going to accidentally break something :)

    • Jessie says

      The alcohol will never cook 100% out of a dish, but if you’re worried about alcohol content you could substitute regular apple cider or a good apple juice for the hard cider!

  2. says

    Okay, longtime lurker, firsttime commenter. I have made this mac 3 times since discovering your recipe on Pinterest about 4 months ago, and- I don’t wanna jinx it- but I may have recently secured a boyfriend due to the tasty powers of this cheesy goodness. (It was the first time I cooked for him and he ate nearly half the dish.) Seriously, though, so good! <3

    • Jessie says

      I’m so glad you like the recipe! This is one of my faaaaaves. And thanks for letting me know about its tasty powers 😉

  3. Meg says

    I made this tonight and it is by far the best best mac and cheese I have ever had. I mean, made. SHH don’t tell my mom I said that….

    • Jessie says

      I have actually never tried mac and cheese in a crock pot, but it’s on my to-do list! If you try it, let me know how it turns out! I would recommend adding a bit more liquid to the sauce if you try it in a crock pot, since the pasta will soak up a lot of it as it cooks.

  4. Madison says

    Made this for my work Christmas party last night, and it was a HUGE hit! I loved the tang of the sharp cheddar mixed with the crispness of the cider. The only slight change I made was to use equal parts butter and flour in my roux – my grandmother has told me that’s her roux secret :)

    • says

      Wahoo! I’m glad it turned out so well for you! And I’ve learned that if grandmothers tell you to cook something a certain way, it’s best not to mess with it :) Thanks for letting me know how the mac and cheese turned out!

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