Mac and cheese is seriously the ultimate comfort food. Especially when it involves more than one cheese and CRISPY PANCETTA. The salty, crispy bites of pancetta add the best flavor dimension to this. In love! Plus it’s Irish themed, and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Perfect for St. Patty’s festivities this week!
It’s SO freaking creamy. Just how I like it. If you’re gonna have mac and cheese, have mac and cheese. That’s how I see it. I’m a huge proponent of honoring your cravings and treating yourself, within reason of course.
I did use chickpea pasta here however, which is higher in fiber and protein than regular pasta, and lower in carbs too. It’s super delish! You can use whatever kind of pasta you like though!
I used a blend of Irish cheddar and Dubliner cheese here. SUCH a good combo. If you’ve never had Dubliner, it’s kind of like a nutty aged cheddar mixed with the flavor and texture of parm. I can’t get enough of it. It adds such a delicious dimension to this cheeeeesy sauce.
I added a tiny bit of green here (haha) in the form of chives. Hey, we needed a little color, right? And green for St. Patty’s! The chives just add a slight oniony deliciousness.
One thing I thought of last minute: this would probably be so good with a splash of beer added to the cheese sauce when you add the milk. If anyone wants to try it, let me know how it turns out!
Beer on the side is a good idea too.
- 8 ounces pasta of your choice (I used Banza chickpea pasta!)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 2½ cups freshly grated Irish cheddar cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Dubliner cheese
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg (a healthy pinch)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
- Preheat a medium skillet to medium-high heat and add pancetta. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently until deeply golden and crispy. Set aside and let drain on paper towels.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour, whisking constantly and cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly add the milk, still whisking constantly. Raise heat to high, bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened, still whisking (you don't want the bottom to burn!).
- Add the dijon, nutmeg, and a few cracks of black pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually add the cheddar and Dubliner, stirring until completely melted.
- Add the pasta and half of the pancetta and stir until combined. Season to taste with pepper and salt if it needs it (I find the pancetta and cheese are salty enough).
- Portion into bowls and top with remaining pancetta and chives!