Here's what you gonna need.
- 8 ounces dry macaroni
- 1/2 pound thick sliced apple wood smoked bacon
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon white truffle butter
- 8 ounces smoked gouda, grated
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- sea salt, as needed for cooking macaroni
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter baking dish or dishes. This recipe will make enough for 10 1/2 cup ramekins.
Line a large, shallow baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the bacon side-by-side on
the baking pan. Bake in oven until crispy, about 20 minutes for thick-cut bacon. Remove from oven and place on several layers of paper towels to drain. (Do not turn off oven!) Chop bacon into smallish pieces and set aside.
Pour 8 cups of water into a 3-quart saucepot. Salt water according to macaroni package. Bring the salted water to a boil and carefully add the macaroni to the water. Cook only until macaroni is at a slightly firm al dente (approximately seven minutes, but depending on the quality of the macaroni, cooking times may vary). DO NOT over-cook the pasta. It is necessary for the macaroni to be a bit undercooked because it is going to absorb additional liquid from the sauce.
Drain cooked macaroni in a strainer/colander and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process. Drain well, then set aside while the sauce is prepared.
In a 3-quart saucepot, add the half and half (it's ok to use the same saucepot the macaroni was cooked in). Whisk in the 2 tablespoons flour until smooth. Add the white truffle butter and the smoked paprika to the half and half mixture. Heat over medium or medium-low heat until hot and beginning to thicken, whisking constantly.
When the sauce is hot, stir in the cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Turn off heat. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the chopped bacon, set aside. Stir the remaining bacon into the sauce. Taste and add salt, if needed.
Fold the macaroni and the sauce together. Pour macaroni into the ramekins or casserole dish. To help catch potential spills, place baking dish or dishes on a baking pan. Top with reserved bacon.
Bake for approximately 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the container, until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.