Pimiento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Pimiento Cheese Macaroni and CheeseBacon topped Pimiento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese is a special treat.

Pimiento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
 
Makes 8 to 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 10 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton chicken broth
  • 3 cups shredded smoked Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (16-ounce) package mezze penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 (7-ounce) can diced pimientos, drained
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Garnish: sliced green onion, diced pimientos
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon using a slotted spoon, and let drain on paper towels, reserving ¼ cup drippings in skillet. Add butter to drippings; heat over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in broth, stirring until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and bubbly, about 8 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low, and gradually stir in 2 cups Cheddar, 2 cups Monterey Jack, and cream cheese until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in salt and red pepper. Add cooked pasta and pimientos, stirring to combine. Spoon mixture into 10 (1-cup) ramekins or a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together bread crumbs, melted butter, remaining 1 cup Cheddar, and remaining 1 cup Monterey Jack. Sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.
  5. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon. Garnish with green onion and pimientos, if desired.

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