|Looked forward to this after work!|
I had some leftover béchamel sauce from the weekend and decided to use it for a little mid-week after work mac. Since I usually don't get home from work until closer to 7pm, it was also my first time experimenting with how quickly I can re-heat béchamel sauce in our slow cooker. I realize that sounds like a contradiction (quickly re-heating in a slow cooker), but I've found that the slow cooker really helps melt everything together without burning anything (like all my pots do), so it's my go-to option.
I melted down the following ingredients in the slow cooker on high for 40 minutes:
1 cup béchamel sauce
3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
Meanwhile, in the oven, I cooked 3 strips of bacon and saved the bacon fat to mix into the cheese sauce. I also baked some panko bread crumbs for 4 minutes at 375F and they turned out great! Much better than my previous attempts.
While the sauce and cheese were melting down, I also cooked about 1/4 pound of elbow pasta.
Before adding in the bacon fat to the cheese sauce, I gave the sauce a taste. I was slightly disappointed. The extra sharp cheddar wasn't offering much in the way of flavor. I am still trying to figure out if I should have added some more salt, or if it was just the result in buying a generic brand cheese in an effort to save some cash. I suppose I've become a bit of a snob and now all my cheeses need to be aged.
Then I mixed in the bacon fat. Gave it a taste. Again, disappointed. It, too, didn't seem to add much in the way of flavor. So, I suppose I can stand by my initial verdict about bacon fat in your mac and cheese sauce: not necessary. Save yourself the added fat, some mixed in bacon bits is good enough.
Overall, the dish probably wasn't my best, but I was still happy to be eating mac and cheese. When am I not?
(UPDATE: I tried the leftovers from this dish a couple days after making it and it seemed as if the flavor was slightly stronger than when I initially made it. Perhaps it's better after a day or two?)