Serves: 8 | 1 Hours

To make our mac-n-cheese absolutely epic, we serve it in a bacon weave bowl, but you can make it without the bowl, too. For the bowl you will need a couple of 2-litre ovenproof glass serving bowls, about 21cm in diameter, or 2 ovenproof dishes of the same shape and size. One needs to fit snugly inside of the other so it clamps the bacon in place.

  • 16 rashers thick-cut smoked streaky bacon
  • 250g elbow macaroni
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, grated, juices reserved
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 20g plain flour
  • 125ml double cream, room temperature
  • 125ml whole milk, room temperature
  • 125g Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 125g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. To make the bacon bowl, preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Take 8 pieces of the bacon and lay them horizontally on a sheet of aluminium foil, placing them closely together. From the top of the strips, fold back over just enough of every second piece of bacon, so a vertical piece of bacon can be woven through, starting from the left (see photo). Peel the top piece of horizontal bacon back to the left, so it overlaps the first piece of vertical bacon. Now lay a second vertical piece directly next to the first piece of vertically placed bacon. Fold back the turned-over horizontal pieces, to weave in the second vertically placed piece of bacon.

2. Repeat this process until all 16 rashers have been woven. Carefully drape the bacon into an ovenproof serving bowl, covering the entire bowl. Take the second bowl and set it inside of the first, pressing it down slightly. Bake for 15–20 minutes then remove it from the oven (reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas 4). Leave it to cool before lifting the top bowl.

3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the macaroni and let it boil until well cooked – al dente is not what you are trying to achieve here. Drain the pasta in a colander. Don’t worry if it clumps together.

4. While the macaroni is boiling, place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter. Then add the grated onion, including the juices, and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, white pepper, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for a few minutes.

5. Sprinkle the flour evenly into the pan, then stir in quickly to avoid lumps. Slowly stir in the double cream and milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook the sauce for about 8 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add 100g of the Monterey Jack cheese and 100g of the Cheddar. Stir until the cheese has melted, then take off of the heat.

6. Give the cheese mixture a good stir, pour the macaroni into the cheese and toss until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then gently pour the macaroni mixture into the bacon bowl. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and place the dish into the oven on the top shelf. Bake for 10–15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is grilled. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

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