Bacon & Pear Macaroni & Cheese - Handmade in the Heartland

Bacon & Pear Macaroni & Cheese

Bacon & Pear Macaroni & Cheese

Bacon & Pear Macaroni & Cheese

I know you read that title and thought what the heck, Bacon and Pear Macaroni and Cheese?! that sounds disgusting, or maybe just weird. Let me tell you right now you have to try this recipe. Its ahhhhmazeballs. Seriously my favorite mac & cheese and over the years i've made some pretty stellar homemade mac & cheese. This one takes the cake. Its got a little sweet and a little salty mixed with a little smokey, from the smoked gouda, all wrapped up in a comfort food staple.  Try it. i'm so not kidding, try it!!

Bacon & Pear Macaroni & Cheese

Bacon & Pear Macaroni & Cheese
This recipe is super strange but seriously the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had, give it a try!

2 cups elbow macaroni (measured before its cooked)
6 slices bacon 
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups whole milk
6 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, rind removed and shredded
1 8 - ounce package cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 tablespoons snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar 
2 red and/or green pears, thinly sliced, or chopped into 1" chunks
2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return pasta to hot pan; cover to keep warm. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, i cut my bacon before i cook it so its already in small pieces. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving 3 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet. Crumble (if still in long pieces) and set aside. Reserve 3 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet.

Cook onion and garlic in bacon drippings over medium heat until onion is good and translucent, the longer you cook the onion the deeper the flavor it has and then in turn your sauce will have, i cooked my onion a good 8-10 minutes until it was almost carmelized. Stir in flour, dry mustard and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Add smoked Gouda cheese and cream cheese; cook and stir until almost melted.

Pour cheese sauce over the cooked pasta. Stir in oregano and all but 2 tablespoons of the crumbled bacon. Transfer mixture to an ungreased to 2-quart baking dish; cover. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a clean, large skillet. Stir in brown sugar; add pear slices. Cook, turning occasionally, until pears are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Remove cover from the baking dish. Stir about half of the cooked, sliced pears into the macaroni and cheese. Spoon the remaining pear slices atop macaroni and cheese; sprinkle with Parmesan and reserved crumbled bacon. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes or until Parmesan has softened. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

So if there is a day this winter when you just feel like you can't warm up, get in the kitchen and cook up this fabulous dish, it will warm up your soul. :)

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