Prima Donna Mac & Cheese with Bacon & Chard

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

Swerve is out! That means I can officially share the recipe everyone was drooling over last week. And in fact I did make it again tonight, having come home to not much in the fridge but cheese left over from this recipe, and milk that I threw in the freezer to use in baking and stuff like this. I used frozen spinach, and it did the trick. I also made it with brown rice pasta this time, in a tentative move away from consuming so much wheat. I know, baby steps.

Also: I have news!

No, it’s not a bun in the oven. But – it’s a boy! I get to host – yes, me – one ANTHONY BOURDAIN when he comes to Calgary in January. Maybe you’ve heard of him? My stomach is already doing flip-flops over not only getting to meet him, but INTRODUCE him. Do you think that counts as an ab workout? Maybe I’ll have abs of steel by January?

Here are the specifics: he’ll be giving a Kitchen Confidential lecture on Tuesday, January 12th at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in the Epcore Centre for Performing Arts. Doors open at 7; the talk will start at 8. Afterward I believe there will be a reception (to which you can buy tickets, I think?) with Janice Beaton Fine Cheese and wine from Willow Park Wines & Spirits. I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about it myself.

And yes, tickets are on sale now – $35 to $100 – you can buy them at the Epcor Centre Box Office, online or by calling (403) 294-9494.

But that’s not all. In other news: remember that night my sister was over and we sat at the table going over paperwork and making an offer on the house across the street? It’s official! She bought it! I can still hardly believe all the stars were aligned (you wouldn’t believe the domino effect of events that allowed this to all work out) and she gets possession of her very first very own house in mid-December. She’ll move in with her kids, whom you may have indirectly met here, and I can hardly wait. Earlier tonight W said, completely out of the blue: “when Ben moves across the street from me, he won’t be my cousin anymore, he’ll be my brother.” It was so cute I had to sit down for a minute.

And that’s it. I think. No wait, there’s more… but I’ll save that for another day. You’ve been waiting so patiently for this mac & cheese recipe.

Prima Donna Mac & Cheese with Bacon & Chard

AuthorJulie

Yields1 Serving

1 lb. elbow macaroni (regular, whole wheat or brown rice)
6-8 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
3-4 cups (about 250 g) grated Prima Donna cheese (or substitute Gouda, manchego, old white cheddar or a combination)
salt & pepper
Crumb topping
2 slices bread, white or anything grainy
2-4 Tbsp. freshly ground Parmesan (or more Prima Donna)
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil

1

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Set aside.

2

In a heavy skillet or medium pot, cook the bacon and onions until the bacon is crisp and the onions are starting to turn golden. Drain any excess fat and add the garlic and chard; saute for a few minutes, until the chard wilts. Add the mixture to the pasta.

3

Return the empty pan to the heat and add the oil and butter. When the foam subsides, add the flour and stir, cooking, for a minute. Gradually whisk in about a cup of the milk, whisk until smooth and then add the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until the mixture comes to a boil; let it boil gently for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Stir in the cheese, remove from the heat and stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta, bacon and chard and stir everything together.

4

Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the bread to crumbs; add the Parmesan and oil and pulse to blend well.

5

Pour the pasta mixture into an appropriately-sized baking dish (9”x13” is about right, or any casserole that will accommodate it), scatter the crumbs overtop and bake for 45 minutes, until bubbly around the edges and golden on top.

Category

Ingredients

 1 lb. elbow macaroni (regular, whole wheat or brown rice)
 6-8 slices bacon, chopped
 1 small onion, finely chopped
 2 garlic cloves, crushed
 1 large bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and roughly chopped
 2 Tbsp. butter
 2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
 1/4 cup flour
 3 cups milk
 3-4 cups (about 250 g) grated Prima Donna cheese (or substitute Gouda, manchego, old white cheddar or a combination)
 salt & pepper
Crumb topping
 2 slices bread, white or anything grainy
 2-4 Tbsp. freshly ground Parmesan (or more Prima Donna)
 1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil

Directions

1

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Set aside.

2

In a heavy skillet or medium pot, cook the bacon and onions until the bacon is crisp and the onions are starting to turn golden. Drain any excess fat and add the garlic and chard; saute for a few minutes, until the chard wilts. Add the mixture to the pasta.

3

Return the empty pan to the heat and add the oil and butter. When the foam subsides, add the flour and stir, cooking, for a minute. Gradually whisk in about a cup of the milk, whisk until smooth and then add the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until the mixture comes to a boil; let it boil gently for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Stir in the cheese, remove from the heat and stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta, bacon and chard and stir everything together.

4

Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the bread to crumbs; add the Parmesan and oil and pulse to blend well.

5

Pour the pasta mixture into an appropriately-sized baking dish (9”x13” is about right, or any casserole that will accommodate it), scatter the crumbs overtop and bake for 45 minutes, until bubbly around the edges and golden on top.

Prima Donna Mac & Cheese with Bacon & Chard

Ah. I just remembered that because Swerve is out it’s FRIDAY, and as such I need to give something away, don’t I? I’m a little disoriented – in the best possible way of course. Wait right here while I go dig through my tickle trunk.

How about a bottle of wine? I brought home a few bottles of Mission Hill wines – they were at Christmas in November, supplying wines for our dinners and hosting wine tasting sessions, and if you are ever in the Okanagan I highly recommend visiting their stunning newly rebuilt winery. And if the random number generator comes up with someone outside Calgary, your consolation prize will be a cookbook – your choice of One Smart Cookie or Grazing – because I couldn’t imagine attempting to ship a bottle of wine. Congrats to June and Sue, who have autographed cookbooks by Ken Kostick and Michael Smith on the way!

So – had any great dinners lately?

One Year Ago: Cured Meats (with Michael & Anna Olson) and Granola Nut Clusters

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50 comments on “Prima Donna Mac & Cheese with Bacon & Chard

  1. Melanie
    November 13, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Yay! First reply! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to make that claim!
    We had a really great dinner the other night. In my rush to make something quick, tasty, and healthy I came across one of those lovely little stroganoff recipes you can make in one pan. What was so lovely was that it was made with ground turkey and I added a pile of vegetables to the bubbling dish… served over noodles, it received rave reviews from the fam! Yay – super mom for one more day…

  2. Dani
    November 13, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I had a “guilty pleasures” dinner the other night – bacon, eggs, potatoes, and sweet onion. All fried! It had been months since I’d had any fried foods, and I skipped the toast, so I didn’t feel too guilty. Well, maybe for the half & half I used in my coffee. 🙂

    That’s so sweet of you to offer the option of a cookbook for your fans in the U.S. Thanks for a chance at the giveaway!

  3. Rachel
    November 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Congrats on getting to introduce Anthony Bourdain! Your life is much more impressive than you may realize.

    I’d say the best dinner in the last few days has been the pierogi and pelmeni I made (using the dough recipe that you posted). Although the most recent was a PB&J sandwich with a bit of butternut and chickpea salad. Still delicious, but in a different way.

  4. Glenda
    November 13, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Wishin’ we lived a little closer to see Anthony B. – that be exciting for you – at least we can read about it!

    Best dinner recently, was a corn chowder my hubbie made. We were watching Michael Smith and he was making it – it just looked soooo good, we just had to try it. Delicious!

  5. Carol SB
    November 13, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Best dinner recently? Tonight was Birthday night for my eldest daughter… yesterday was her REAL birthday, but the Crave cupcakes, left for my friend to bring as a surprise, were discovered by a squirrel who must’ve thought he’d found the biggest, best peanut EVER (“And you wouldn’t believe the peanuts in that hard, clear plastic shell! They were different colours, one tasted like strawberry, but I could smell mint- oh, and there was chocolate, and lime…”)
    So to compensate, tonight was stroganoff and pie. With bag ‘o’ salad, and caesars for vitamins (I love that my daughters are re-introducing me to the stuff I liked way back when!)

  6. Cheryl
    November 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Not a lot of good dinners lately, getting lazy with the one handed food. But I did make a stirfry last night and we decided to skip any noodles/rice. Don’t know why we didn’t do that before, it’s just filler anyway. Like bread with a giant, rich dinner.

    And so excited for you. So many good things coming your way lately.

  7. jacquie
    November 13, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    yumm. what a great way to get some greens 🙂

  8. Erica B.
    November 13, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Our best dinner this week was one we didn’t make… we picked up Chinese food tonight lemon chicken, vegetable fried rice, vegetable chop suey and wonton soup.

    Thanks for the recipe – T took today’s paper to work so I have to wait to see it in print. (now if I could only get C&J to consider green vegetables…)

  9. Rose
    November 14, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Dinner tonight was pasta with steamed spinach and bottled sauce. Quick and easy but good! How lucky to have your sister move in across the street. I wish I had the same happening instead of her being a three hour drive away. It’ll make a huge difference for both of you two when you need a bit of help with kids or whatever!
    Rose

  10. Bellini Valli
    November 14, 2009 at 5:07 am

    So much to congratulate you on Julie…where do we start!!!! Can’t wait to hear all about everything!!!In the meantime we can enjoy this comforting dish with a twist.

  11. Mama JJ
    November 14, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Great dinner, yes! Though I suppose it couldn’t really be called an actual dinner: Chinese Cabbage and Apple Salad—three bowls of it (so good I wrote about it)—and then butternut pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

    I make that same mac and cheese recipe, but it’s different (I’m not making any sense). No chard and bacon and onions, but the same white sauce, more or less. I want to try it your way now. I still have a fair amount of Swiss chard hanging out in the garden.

  12. Kate
    November 14, 2009 at 5:50 am

    We had a quick dinner last night because we spent the dinner hour lolly gagging with a dear friend around our table to laughter and wine. I guess we had dessert before dinner!
    She had to run home and couldn’t stay, but, we had a grilled chicken breast over salad with kidney beans. Simple and fast. My husband said he misses eating this meal. We have it quite a bit. I didn’t make the cilantro dressing I often do so hubby had balsamic with his olive oil. I tried the white balsamic but didn’t like it as well. Too mild for all those flavors.
    Thanks for the shot at a cookbook. I love Anthony B! Can’t wait to read more about it.

  13. June
    November 14, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Wow – I’m so excited for your Seester! That’s just incredible news & I’m over the moon about winning Ken’s cookbook! I can’t wait to see it.

  14. Lisa
    November 14, 2009 at 8:24 am

    My most recent “great” dinner was the herbed mac & cheese from the Rebar cookbook. It has a herbed cheesy pine nut crumb crust that’s truly tremendous. (Once you’d planted the idea of baked mac and cheese I couldn’t wait for your recipe, sorry Julie!)

    SInce it’s a vegetarian/vegan cookbook, the Rebar version doesn’t include bacon, but I imagine that adding it would bring an excellent recipe into a whole new realm of superlatives…

  15. Ellen
    November 14, 2009 at 8:34 am

    wow, anthony bourdain?! how cool! and this mac n cheese looks amazing.

    i’ve had some pretty amazing dinners lately. made pizza today with homemade crust and a random assortment of fridge-clearing toppings. it was very satisfying!

  16. Susan
    November 14, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Hi Julie, so much great news in your life, how wonderful! I made your ghoulish pulled pork recipe from a few weeks ago. I actually made it Thursday morning in the slow cooker for dinner that night, but it wasn’t quite ready. So scrambled eggs for dinner on Thursday! Ended up cooking the pulled pork much longer and served if Friday instead – it was fabulous. Get this: the 1.5 year old, the 5 year old and my husband and I all enjoyed it – I guess the stars aligned over here as well!

  17. Vivian
    November 14, 2009 at 10:03 am

    This week’s most memorable food stop was at Joey’s in Mayfield Common (Edmonton). A late lunch of shared appetizers: perfect gyoza, Thai lettuce wraps and a sweet little 8″ rectangular Tandoori Chicken pizza! All three dishes were top notch and very flavourful. (Ahem, if I should be crazy lucky enough to have my number randomly drawn…I would DRIVE the 3+ hrs. to Calgary to nab that wine!)

  18. Christina
    November 14, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I had an amazing dinner on Thursday night!!! I made a tandoori shrimp dish that was so wonderful! I don’t really cook indian food but wow I can’t wait to make this again. Everything I used was Epicure since that’s what I had on had. I made some brown rice with Hummus mix which was awesome. In a skillet I cooked onion, red, yellow and orange peppers with some Tandoori spice and a little curry spice. Added shrimp (which had been marinating with some olive oil, garlic, curry spice & tandoori spice) finished it off with a little milk … put it over the rice … wow! DELICIOUS!!
    So excited your sister is moving across the street! I don’t have a sister but if I did that would be the best! So many exciting things happening right now! Love it!

  19. Angela
    November 14, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I’ve been flat on my back sick since Tuesday so havnt been eating anything other than soup and drinking tea. Would love to drink the wine when I’m better though. 😉

  20. Mama JJ
    November 14, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I made this for lunch. Delicious.

  21. Jessica
    November 14, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Last night, roasted chicken with lima beans and corn on the side (do those two veggies mixed together constitute succotash, or is there another ingredient?) and a trip to Marble Slab, night before that raviolis in a tomato/wilted spinach/olive oil mixture, tonight Cuban carne asada with rice and green beans on the side, and tomorrow tortilla soup using the rest of the oven roasted chicken from last night. I’m on a roll!

  22. Debra
    November 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Dinner this week was rushed and hectic. However last night (Friday is no cook day) we had pizza and salad which was actually quite good but made fantastic by the fact that all of us were able to be here to eat together. Presidents Choice has new pizza called Toppings First and the roasted veg one was fab.

  23. H.Peter
    November 14, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Bourdain. He is a rock star. I want to carry his luggage. Not more. Man servant.

    CONGRATULATIONS!

  24. Andrea
    November 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I am a bit of an Anthony Bourdain fan myself. For the introduction, simple throw out a few “F-Bombs”, say something mean about vegetarians, and then talk about how great any meat can be if it’s stuffed into a casing, grilled on an open flame, and then served from a local street vender. You’ll knock the ball out of the park.

  25. robyn
    November 14, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Keith and I are MORE than jealous that you’re hosting Anthony Bourdain. We looove him!!! Please say hello to him from us – the lowly normal couple in Vancouver.

    He’ll be my brother! I love it!

  26. Margaret
    November 14, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Our best dinner this week was homemade clam chowder with shredded potato and carrot, (still from the garden crop), a big salad and peach pie with vanilla yogurt on top. Yum.

  27. Corine
    November 14, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    OMG. You are sooooo lucky. I watch Anthony’s No Reservations every week.
    Tonight dinner was lobster, 2 each, on sale at Sobey’s for $8.88 per lb.

  28. Eve
    November 14, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Wow congrats on being introduced to Anthony B. I know women that think he is hot, so lucky you! Great dinners? Not lately. These days I am so tired that all I want is something fast, which could be from boxed macaroni and cheese to breakfast for dinner. shopgurl101@gmail.com

  29. Avery
    November 14, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Is the wine & cheese reception separate from the talk? I’ll have to look into it; I need my wine & cheese! Tonight we needed to clear our freezer of left-over acorn squash and almost-empty bags of frozen spinach, broccoli and green beans… I made a sesame stir-fry which I tossed with soba noodles and topped with flakes of nori. Suddenly we feel healthy again…!

  30. Joni
    November 14, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Congrats on the hosting gig. I LOVE Anthony Bourdain!!!

    Dinner for us was turkey meatballs with sundried tomatoes and feta, risotto with parmesan and peas. Delish.

  31. Nicki
    November 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I had a pita pizza! With spinach, some carmalized onions and garlic with peperoni, mushrooms and mozorella cheese on top. Yum.

    I was feeling curious and added a spoonful on spaghetti sauce, which was full of lentils onto it and it actually still tasted good.

  32. Jan (Mixing Bowl Kids)
    November 15, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Wow….Anthony Bourdain! I love his books and travelling food show. Congratulations! The best dinner I’ve had lately is the one my hubby made on Friday night. Bacon wrapped asparagus with steamed mini potaotes in a Dijon vinaigrette. Steak with portabello mushrooms in red wine sauce and roasted garlic with baguette…so yummy!

  33. Carolyn
    November 15, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Congratulations! It shows what a star you are when you’re hosting another big star. It’s an honour to know you, Julie.
    I’m so glad things are going so well for you… you deserve it.

  34. Elaine
    November 15, 2009 at 8:51 am

    You’d think unemployment would give me the time to create gigantic, awesome, elaborate meals… but not so much. We’ve still been rocking the crock pot soup train quite often around here. Best dinner recently, though, was a tenderloin sandwich. Pork marinated in chipotles and fig jam; sliced avocado; cilantro; chipotle mayo; quick-pickled red onions. It was so good I had to keep putting it down to go, “No. Really. Isn’t this unbelievable?” to my husband.

  35. DJ
    November 15, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Hmmmm, no great meals lately other than free range roasted chicken with the potatoes and carrots from our garden. Pure comfort food to me!
    Would love to win a copy of One Smart Cookie!

  36. Anonymous
    November 15, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I have a crush on Anthony Bourdain. That is all.

    Great meals? As you know, just back from NYC. I was in food heaven for 10 days. It’s hard to pick, but the foie gras and short ribs at Cafe Cluney is right up there!

    Love love love that town (uh, and Anthony too). I’ll be there!

  37. Manon from Ontario
    November 15, 2009 at 11:09 am

    For those of you wanting maple syrup, here is my email clerouxram@xplornet.com

    our website is still under construction as our store…sorry, lack of time!

    Thank you for the interest in our Maple Syrup 🙂

    Manon Cleroux

  38. Sue (London, ON)
    November 15, 2009 at 11:14 am

    That mac & cheese looks amazing. Sadly, my husband really hates mac & cheese and I doubt my boys would eat it with something green in it!!
    I am very excited for you having your sister across the street and what a sweet thing for W to say.
    We’ve got some veal chops for dinner tonight. Never cooked them before, looking forward to it.
    Thanks again Julie for drawing my name for Michael Smiths new book. It makes me smile every time I picture myself coming home to find it in my mailbox!!

  39. Robyn in Mountain (Ontario that is)
    November 15, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Yay! The Mac and Cheese recipe!! Can’t wait to make it. I told my niece about it last night and she wants the recipe too. Thanks Julie!
    We had a nice baked tilapia (I marinated it a maple syrup and a chili sauce first) and roasted vegetables — mushrooms, eggplant, onions, peppers, garlic, threw them in a pan, drizzled them with olive oil and voila!

  40. Barb
    November 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Wow! All that good news in one day! Soooo happy for you. As much as you are looking forward to having your sister and her family close by it pales in comparison to how much W is looking forward to it. So sweet.

    Dinner – yes, I made your Peachy BBQ chicken skewers. Had an Asian flavor salad and white/wild rice dish as well.

  41. Donna
    November 15, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Best dinner lately was last night (Sat.) at a company Christmas party at the Banff Springs Hotel ! Prawn/ sprout asperigus (Spelling – where is my spell check ?) appetizer, squash & carrot soup, turkey with sweet and white mashed potatoes, turnip, red cabbage, something fluffy and chocolate in dark chocolate cups with fruit.
    Second best was your potato leek soup – easy on post dental work.

  42. Elizabeth
    November 15, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks! We made this with a little added roasted squash-totally delicious. It worked really well with gluten-free pasta as well.

    Elizabeth

  43. Lesli Christianson-Kellow
    November 15, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Red Lentil Soup with plain yogurt dolloped on top…and crusty Italian bread…my comfort meal…

    http://www.forks.ca/soups-on-hot-soup-on-a-cold-day-just-what-the-blogger-ordered-010821.php

  44. erin
    November 16, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Dinner last night was honey garlic ribs, rice, and a bag of salad. Yum!

    I would love to be included in a draw for a cookbook!

    Julie, you are so lucky!

  45. Diana
    November 16, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I was lucky to be at CIN on the weekend, so didn’t have to cook! Will make mac and cheese tonight though, and with your inspiration will add some frozen swiss chard from my garden this summer.

  46. Amelia
    November 16, 2009 at 11:59 am

    First of all, congrats on your sister getting the house across the street! Plus hosting Anthony Bourdain – I was just watching him last nite on tv and he’s a very humble guy. As for dinner, I recently had japchae along with bulgolgi (with whole chestnuts, yum!).

  47. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite
    November 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Congrats re: Bourdain! I can’t wait to hear about it. Wish I lived in Calgary… And OMG – what a delicious mac and cheese….

  48. Vivian
    November 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Oh Julie, this pasta dish is just divine. I have just had my first taste of it, having only made it yesterday (Sunday). The Chard even caramelized a touch on the bottom of the dish and came out smoky and rich. I used about 1 cup of Double Smoked Cheddar in with the rest of the cheeses and it really put it over-the-top. Thank you so much.

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