There’s just something about Southern cooking that makes my taste buds stand up and go Mmmmm. It’s probably all the butter, but another likely suspect is the fact that Southern food is cooked with lots of love and ingredients that can be found in almost everyone’s pantry or refrigerator.
Regular mac and cheese is comforting and usually loaded with calories, but this recipe is full of easy, melty reduced-fat goodness that your whole family can enjoy. Bonus: it’s nearly impossible to screw up
Southern Style Smokey Baked Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Onion
- 1-12 oz box whole wheat elbow macaroni (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
- 3 tablespoons reduced fat margarine
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
- 3 cups fat free milk
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 3 slices hickory smoked turkey bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked chipotle pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ cup Eggbeaters whites
- 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- Fresh black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta until it nearly reaches al dente. (A little bite to the pasta is desirable so that it doesn’t overcook while it is baking.)
3) Coarsely chop bacon and crisp in a medium skillet on the stove. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving approximately 2 tablespoons of grease. Sauté onions in reserved grease until transluscent. Set aside.
4) While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, smoked paprika, and chipotle. Simmer for ten minutes on lowest heat setting.
5) Temper the eggbeaters into the flour/butter/spice mixture. Add bacon and onions, then stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
6) Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow topping to brown under broiler, then remove from oven. Rest for five minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.