Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon Panko Bread Crumb Topping

Its a cold, cold December in North Carolina, and weather like this, combined with family coming into town for the holidays, calls for simple and delicious comfort food like Mac 'n' Cheese.

This is probably my most requested recipe ever. And its no wonder why, because everyone loves macaroni and cheese. As for me personally, I don't like most macaroni and cheese. Its usually not cheesy enough and is, in fact, often dry.

I hate dry macaroni and cheese, blech. I think Macaroni and cheese should be creamy, and it should taste like cheese... I mean it should REALLY taste like cheese.

I have been working on this recipe for years and when I make it, it never lasts very long. I love the smoked Gouda because it makes the Mac 'n' cheese almost taste like it has meat in it. It used to be hard to find smoked Gouda, but now it is almost everywhere. Also, don't be tempted to use anything less than extra sharp white cheddar. For this dish to have the cheesy flavor it has, you need a VERY sharp cheese, anything less will result in a bland and boring dish...and for that you can buy Kraft in the blue box.

The bacon Panko topping is totally optional, but gives a great crunchy contrast to the creamy pasta beneath.

Check out my pals at Hot Kitchen making a romantic dinner for two featuring Mama Ozzy's Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese!!!

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon Panko Bread Crumb Topping

5 slices bacon
1 1/2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 lb Smoked Gouda Cheese, grated
1 lb Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions, drained.

Pre heat oven to 350F.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp, remove to paper towels to drain. Add panko bread crumbs and 1/4 tsp salt and toast in skillet until golden. Remove from heat and crumble bacon into bread crumbs, toss to combine.

In a large pot, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat. Once melted, add garlic and flour, whisk to combine, and cook for 2 minutes until bubbling. Add 1 cup milk and whisk to combine, then add remaining 4 cups of milk and cook over medium heat, whisking gently until sauce thickens. Add nutmeg, pepper and salt and whisk until well combined. Add grated cheese 1 cup at a time until all cheese is added and sauce is smooth. Remove sauce from heat.

Prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions and drain thoroughly. Add macaroni to cheese sauce and mix to combine. (At this point the mixture will look like cheese soup with a few noodles in it. Do not worry, the pasta will absorb 90% of the liquid while it is in the oven). Pour into 9x13 baking pan, top with panko crumbs and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15- 20 minutes before serving.


  1. Made this for my brothers birthday dinner. It was insane!! I did use monteray jack instead of cheddar but still great. Everyone had seconds and took what was left home!!

  2. I'm really glad it was such a hit! Thanks for sharing! :) Mama Ozzy

  3. I made mine with a mixture of smoked gouda, medium sharp cheddar cheese and Red Leicester cheese (from an Irish pub cheese mix). I also added a cup and a half of heavy whipping cream instead of using just the milk. It is in the oven now. It tasted great though before I put it in the oven. I definitely liked the addition of the garlic, which most other mac and cheese recipes didn't have. Thanks!

  4. I:-) didn't have bread crumbs, I used fried onions instead. Everything is delish!

  5. Great idea for using the french fried onions... Those are good on everything and I bet they were terrific on this!

    Mama Ozzy

  6. I want to try this recipe for thanksgiving! how many servings (approx) does this make?

    1. I suppose that depends on how large a serving one takes :). I would think at Thanksgiving, where there are several other side dishes, you could easily get 24 servings from one recipe. Good Luck and let me know how it turns out!

    2. Thanks for the reply! We are having about 25 people so I may up the quantities a little... mostly because I know I'll want leftovers!

  7. Thats a pretty big group of hungry people. You may want to double the recipe. Try this idea: make the cheese sauce ahead of time and refrigerate ( it keeps really well), as well as the panko topping and also the pasta ( tossed with a little olive oil to prevent sticking). The day of the party, just mix however much you want, bake it off and serve! Super easy time saver! Good luck!

  8. Thanks for the tips! Definitely helps to know that the sauce keeps!

  9. I modified a bit as well. Here is what my son and I did to Mama's already amazing dish.

    - Used 8 strips of beacon
    - 1 1/2lb velveta block.
    - half a wheel of smoked gouda
    - 1/2lb sharp cheddar
    - grilled 5 boneless chicken.breast after covering them with minced garlic butter. Cut into bite size pieces. Add ro mac n cheese.
    - After layering top with bacon bread crumbs, i added another layer of parmesan shredded cheese to top.