- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided plus more for the dish
- 4 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 4 cups whole milk
- 12 ounces dark beer
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 small can chopped jalapenos
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 4 cups cheese of your choice, shredded and divided
- 1 cup penne, ziti or similar sized pasta
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3 quart casserole dish; set aside.
- Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the butter into the bowl with the bread and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
- Dice the raw bacon and add to a large fry pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the bacon is brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked bacon to paper towels to drain.
- Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pan, leaving all of the brown crispy bits.
- Heat the milk and beer in a separate saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the rendered bacon fat and allow to melt. When the butter bubbles, whisk in the flour, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the brown crispy bits and stir until combined with no lumps remaining, approximately 1 minute.
- While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk and beer mixture. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, black pepper, jalapenos, 3 1/2 cups cheese, and cooked bacon. Set cheese sauce aside.
- Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 2 to 3 minutes less than the manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone.
- Transfer the past to a colander, rinse under cold running water and drain well.
- Stir the pasta into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, bread crumbs, and paprika.
- Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Source: Zosia Cooks
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