Alright, let's start off with the ingredients. Just a disclaimer, I don't measure most of my ingredients. I prefer to eye everything, so my proportions probably won't be the same as yours. This recipe is for 2 pounds of pasta, which will feed a rather large amount of people. The less the pasta to sauce ratio is, the creamier the end product is going to be. Adjust amounts as needed.
-2 pounds of Shell Pasta (or Elbow Macaroni or just about any pasta your heart desires) -6-8 cups of grated cheese (I used Extra Extra Sharp Cheddar, Extra Sharp Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere, and a little bit of left over Pepper Jack, feel free to use whatever cheese(s) you want) -1/2 cup Butter -1/2 cup Flour -6 cups of Milk -Bacon -Potato Chips -Pinch of Nutmeg -Salt and Pepper to Taste (I didn't use any salt as the bacon and potato chip topping are already salty)
You can add other seasonings if you'd like (Worcestershire sauce, mustard, spices, etc.)
Cut up your bacon. I like my bacon to be about 3/4 inch wide by 1 inch tall, but again, whatever you like.
Cook your bacon.
Drain your bacon and set it aside. I like to reserve some bacon fat for later. If you are a health nut, get rid of it.
Grate your cheese. Please don't buy shredded cheese to save some work. It really is better when you grate it yourself. Set the cheese aside. I recommend covering it with plastic wrap and putting it in the fridge for later.
Now, for the all important topping, I've been using potato chips. This was inspired by Chef John of Foodwishes, the greatest internet chef to live.
Here's where that reserved bacon fat comes into play. You can use butter instead. Put some bacon fat (or butter) into a pan, then add your crushed potato chips. Make sure you have enough fat to coat all your chips.
Cook them medium low until they get nice and brown. The difference should be noticeable, but they shouldn't be anywhere near burnt.
SAUCE (and Pasta)
Now that all of that is done, it is time for the sauce. Start off with a roux, which is just equal amount of flour and butter. This will act as our thickening agent. I didn't get a photo, but it's not much to miss out on. Melt your butter, add the flour, and let it cook until the mixture gets light brown; don't let it get too dark. This is where I add my nutmeg and white pepper. To this, we are going to add our COLD milk. Note, cold milk. Hot Roux + Cold Milk = No Lumps. Thank you to Chef John again.
Bring this up to heat as we are going to turn off our heat when we add the cheese.
Let it get to the point just before it boils. Once it gets there, turn off the heat and add about 2/3 of the cheese. Stir until the cheese completely melts. Save the rest of the cheese for the topping.
While you are making the sauce, get the pasta going. Cook the pasta a minute or two less than what the directions say on the packaging, as the pasta will continue to cook later in the oven. Drain and set aside.
Put the pasta in a baking dish and mix in the sauce and about 2/3 of the bacon. As you can see here, we got some spillage of the sauce, but that's okay.
Once that is all mixed together, we are going to top it off with the remaining cheese and bacon that we saved and the potato chips. Feel free to layer the topping as you want. We pretty much put a lasagna of toppings on top of our macaroni.
Bake the whole tray of glory. Honestly, I'm bad with oven temperatures, so I always guess, much like my eyeing of ingredients. I baked mine at 375 for about 15 minutes. Just put it in the oven and let it cook until the top gets brown and the cheese melts, but make sure you keep an eye on it.
Enjoy. Thanks for reading and post your thoughts or comments.