Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Experiment: Bacon Fat Infused Cheese Sauce #2

Looked forward to this after work!
After feeling like I didn't give the bacon fat infusion trick a real chance to shine in a garlic mac, I thought I'd give it another try in something a little less complex.

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?)

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