Alright, it is time for the last of the childhood favorites series. I’ve had fun with it and might revisit it in the future.
Here I took everyone’s favorite: macaroni and cheese. Only I took out the macaroni and topped it with, hilariously enough, most kids’ least favorite vegetable, the brussels sprout.
I’ve always liked them, I think that as a child I was determined to be the one kid who liked the detested vegetable. I mean, they make some adults still cringe. Yet, I am determined to shed its infamous reputation.
If you take brussels and fry them in bacon fat, they can do no wrongs. Granted, my rule is that anything fried in bacon fat must be delicious. However the bitterness that most people associate with this cruciferous vegetable is paired nicely with a crispy texture and a good dose of fatty, umami flavor.
Season to taste
Cut the strips of bacon into chunks, fry. When cooked, pull them from the pan, leaving the fat behind.
Cook the carrots and onions in the bacon fat on high for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. These are here mostly to season the sprouts so they have to be nearly fried and carmelized by the time you reach the next step.
Blister the brussels sprouts on high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. At this stage the carrots and onions will be easy to burn otherwise. Cover, then continue cooking on medium low for another 5 minutes. They are done when harder core is firm, but not hard and the leaves are tender.
Boil the pasta, al dente.
Start making your roux, this will thicken the sauce. Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook while stirring for a minute or two until the paste is lightly golden.
Add the milk slowly. The first few tablespoons will make the roux recede into it’s self. This is ok. Continue adding the milk while breaking up the thickened paste. Eventually it will thin out until it reaches the proper consistency. It should coat the back of your spoon.
Add the cheese and in my case, the hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir in the pasta.
Pour the mix into a greased casserole pan. Top with the brussels sprouts and reserved bacon. Bake at 350 ˚F for 15 to 20 minutes. It’s finished when the top is golden brown and crispy.
I happen to love eggs, and more specifically, warmed egg yolks. If you want you can separate some of the brussel mac like I did into smaller serving dishes and crack an egg on top before baking, I recommend it. You can also crack them directly over the casserole if you wish. The extra level of creaminess really does the trick.