by Julie Hartigan of Cooking w/Julie

French Bistro Mac & Cheese w/ Lardons

Channel cozy French Bistro vibes with this super-flavorful version of everyone’s favorite comfort food! A mix of nutty imported Comtè, luscious creamy imported Camembert, and tart earthy imported Bucheron cheeses meld into a luxurious sauce while crispy bacon and buttered breadcrumbs lend a decadent finish.

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Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Keyword French Bistro Mac & Cheese with Lardons, imported comte cheese, imported bucheron cheese, imported camembert cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow or other small macaroni cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 lb thick cut or slab bacon cut into 1/4” thick slices
  • 4 TB butter
  • 4 TB flour
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 cups shredded imported Comtè
  • 1 cup crumbled imported Bucheron or other goat cheese
  • 1 8 oz wheel imported Camembert rind removed, cut into chunks

Optional topping

  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Cook bacon over medium-low heat in a large saute pan until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. 

  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a large pot. Whisk in flour and cook, continuing to whisk for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Add garlic and slowly whisk in milk, mustard, and salt until incorporated. Add bay leaf and thyme and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Reduce heat to low, discard bay leaf and thyme, and stir in mix of cheeses until fully melted. 

  3. Add cooked macaroni and bacon to sauce and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

  4. For ultra creamy Mac & Cheese, serve as is topped with toasted panko and parsley. Or to serve gratin-style transfer to a large buttered baking dish or multiple buttered ramekins. Combine panko, butter, and salt and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly, top with parsley, and serve.

Recipe Notes

Chef Tip: Have fun with other additions to this elegant dish! Try sautéed mushrooms, roasted Brussels sprouts, cubed cooked squash, shaved truffle, or even cooked lobster chunks.