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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sweet Corn and Bacon Skillet Mac and Cheese

It's new recipe night!

I love new recipe night.  Tonight was particularly fun because the new recipe is one of Aaron's favorite foods.  That's an almost guaranteed hit with him.

It was a perfect recipe tonight.  I have been dying to try this one since I read it on Iowa Girl Eats back in early July.

Side note: Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats just had a handsome little baby boy.  I'm so excited for her!

If you get a chance you should go check out the original recipe on her blog.  The post is a cute story about pregnancy cravings and her pictures turned out so much better than mine.

This recipe has almost everything you could ask for in macaroni and cheese.  Perhaps you would like some meat on the side (or if you're Aaron you'll want to mix in some chicken), but for me this is exactly how I like to eat it.

True to an Iowa girl summer recipe it includes sweet corn.  Iowa truly has some of the best corn in the country.  Here in Knoxville, TN we get some pretty good Silver Queen corn, but in Iowa... I can't describe how sweet and crisp the corn is.  I can (and have) eaten it raw right off the stalk.

This recipe also has bacon (which is never a bad thing) and a ton of cheese.  With very little seasoning (actually none aside from salt and pepper) this meal is still absolutely PACKED with flavor.

I should note that it is extremely helpful to have everything prepped before you start cooking.

I was just in the middle of making the cheese sauce when I realized I had forgotten to open the can of chicken broth and I needed to take a picture all at the same time... It was a bit stressful.  So, have your corn cut off the cob, your bacon chopped, a plate already lined with a paper towel for the bacon, the cheese shredded (and I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes to shred the cheese yourself instead of buying it already shredded), and the milk and chicken broth already measured out.  You'll be so glad when you get started cooking and you don't have to run around the kitchen like crazy trying to get everything together.

Sweet Corn and Bacon Skillet Mac and Cheese

8 oz pasta shapes (Kristin used gemelli which is one of my favorites, but it's hard to find here so I used elbow macaroni)
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 ears corn, cut off the cob (she says 2 cups... it took me 4 ears to get 2 cups, that's how much better the corn is in Iowa)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
1 vine ripened tomato, diced (optional, I didn't use it)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.

Cut the corn off the cob.  Collect it into a bowl and set aside.

Chop the bacon and set it aside.  Prepare a plate or bowl, lined with a paper towel to drain the bacon once cooked.

Shred the cheese and set it aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the bacon in the skillet until crisp.

Transfer the bacon to the prepared plate to drain and remove all but about 1 tsp of the grease from the pan.

Return the pan to the stove and add the corn.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer back to the bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in the skillet and add the flour.  Stir together for about 30 seconds.

Slowly add the milk and chicken broth, stirring constantly.  (The original recipe actually said to whisk and then switch to a wooden spoon when it comes time to add the cheese, but I use this blue spatula for almost everything.  It's my favorite spatula and it's starting to crack and it was a hand-me-down so I have no idea if it's even possible to find another one, but it's perfect for absolutely everything.)  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring almost constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cheese until smooth.

Add the pasta and corn to the skillet and stir to combine.  Here is where I made my mistake on presentation: The recipe says to stir in the bacon as well, but it got a bit lost in the cheese sauce so I think it would be better sprinkled over the top before serving.

Serve warm with diced tomatoes sprinkled over the top if desired.

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