Introduction: Slow-cooked dishes have a unique way of infusing flavors and creating comforting, hearty meals. Mac and cheese, a beloved classic, takes on a whole new level of deliciousness when prepared in a slow cooker. In this recipe, we’ll delve into the art of crafting a creamy, indulgent mac and cheese with a smoky twist – bacon. The slow cooker simplifies the process, allowing the ingredients to meld together into a luscious, cheesy symphony. Get ready to savor every bite of this Slow-Cooker Mac and Cheese with Bacon that’s sure to become a family favorite.
Historical Context: Macaroni and cheese, often fondly referred to as “mac and cheese,” has a rich history that dates back to at least the 14th century, with roots in Italian cuisine. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that it made its way to North America, thanks to Thomas Jefferson, who famously served it at a state dinner in the early 1800s. Today, mac and cheese has become a staple comfort food in many American households, with countless variations and adaptations.
Step 1: Cook the Macaroni Begin by cooking the elbow macaroni. Follow the package instructions, but cook it for one to two minutes less than recommended for al dente pasta. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Step 2: Prepare the Cheese Mixture In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Toss them together to create a cheese blend.
Step 3: Layer the Ingredients in the Slow Cooker Grease the inside of your slow cooker to prevent sticking. Start by layering one-third of the cooked macaroni at the bottom.
Sprinkle one-third of the cheese mixture over the macaroni.
Repeat these layers two more times, ensuring an even distribution of macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker.
Step 4: Make the Cheesy Sauce In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the whole milk, heavy cream, and chicken or vegetable broth. Warm the mixture until it’s steaming but not boiling.
Gradually add the cubed unsalted butter to the hot liquid, whisking continuously until the butter is fully melted and the mixture is smooth.
Stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Continue to whisk until all the seasonings are well incorporated.
Step 5: Pour the Sauce Over the Mac and Cheese Carefully pour the creamy sauce over the layered macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker. Ensure that the liquid reaches all parts of the slow cooker.
Step 6: Cook the Mac and Cheese Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it to cook on low for 2 hours and 30 minutes. This slow cooking process allows the pasta to absorb the creamy sauce and the cheeses to melt into gooey perfection.
Step 7: Add the Bacon and Garnish About 15 minutes before serving, sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the mac and cheese. This adds a delightful smoky flavor and a satisfying crunch to each bite.
If desired, garnish the finished dish with chopped fresh parsley for a pop of color and a touch of freshness.
Step 8: Serve and Enjoy Once the cooking time is up, your Slow-Cooker Mac and Cheese with Bacon is ready to be savored. Serve it hot, straight from the slow cooker, and watch as it disappears from plates in no time.