Mac and cheese just might be the ultimate comfort food. This Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta adds a grown-up touch to a childhood favorite.
While many gourmet mac and cheese recipes use cheddar, I find that American cheese, like I blend with Monterey jack for this Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta, creates the creamiest texture, and is most reminiscent of the mac and cheese my granny (now in her nineties) used to make for me. It was my absolute favorite thing to eat growing up. I remember riding down a dirt road to her house, and in the summer her garden would be loaded to the brim – she and my grandpa both had green thumbs! Her table would be loaded with what we always called a country supper – a dish of cottage cheese, a plate of cucumbers and tomatoes fresh from the garden, beans, corn on the cob (also from the garden), homemade apple sauce, creamed new potatoes, simple white bread, and if I was very lucky – a big pot of macaroni and cheese.
While I still enjoy an unadorned mac and cheese, my taste buds have evolved, and I love trying out new combinations. I also enjoy trying out new kitchen gadgets, like the fabulous grater set and silicone whisk Chef Craft sent me to test out. Although I was provided these tools at no cost to me, all opinions are my own. I used their Coarse Grater, and their Silicone Whisk for this recipe.
For this recipe, boil the pasta according to package directions – cavatappi are my favorite, but use whatever shape you like. While the pasta is cooking, I cubed the pancetta, and rendered it over medium high heat, watching to make sure it didn’t get too brown. I used a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta from the pan, and drained it on a paper towel before I added shredded brussels sprouts. You can buy these already shredded in some grocery stores, but it didn’t take long to cut the ends off, remove the outer leaves, slice in half, and finely chop. I added 2 cloves of minced garlic and sauteed until everything was softened, but the brussels sprouts were still nice and green.
I allowed the brussels sprouts to rest while I prepared the cheese sauce. I melted 3 tbsp of butter in the same pan, adding 2 tbsp of flour and whisking constantly to prevent lumps. After the roux took on a golden, light brown, I slowly poured in the milk. A silicone whisk is best for this, because not only does it help get everything off the bottom of the pan while you are stirring, it also prevents your pan from getting damaged. Stir in your grated cheese – the graters from Chef Craft made light work of grating the cheeses. Nothing stuck to the utensil, and it was easy to clean.
Drain your pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Add the sauteed brussels sprouts and pancetta. I chose to reserve a little of each to garnish the top of my dish. You can also serve this straight from the pot of course, but I chose to transfer it into a large casserole dish before garnishing with the reserved pancetta and brussels sprouts.
I hope this Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta recipe makes it’s way to your weekly menu. If you make it, I would love to know how it turned out, or what you added to it to make it your own! I think it would be delicious with sauteed shallots, and some finely chopped apple! Be sure to tag me in your Instagram pictures @thesundayfundayblog.
Thanks for reading, and letting me share my grown-up version of a childhood favorite with you!
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- 1 lb pasta - I like cavatappi
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk (whole milk suggested)
- 8 oz White American cheese (ask for a chunk from the deli)
- 8 oz Monterrey Jack Cheese
- 1-2 cups of brussel sprouts
- 4 oz. pancetta
- 2 cloves of garlic