This dish has a mild smokiness. Use a high-quality smoked bacon to intensify the flavor.
• 10 tablespoons butter, divided
• 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
• 1 box (16 ounces) small shell pasta
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon coarse salt
• 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
• 5 cups whole milk
• 3 cups shredded Gouda cheese
• 1-1⁄2 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
• 12 slices bacon, diced and cooked crisp
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.
2. In medium bowl, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add breadcrumbs, and mix well. Set aside.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Strain, rinse with cool water, and drain completely. Transfer to large mixing bowl, and toss with olive oil. Set aside.
4. In large stockpot, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Add and sauté onion until softened. Whisk in flour, paprika, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to keep milk from scalding, until smooth. Continue cooking over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheeses until melted and smooth. Add pasta and bacon, and mix until just combined.
5. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, and use spoon to spread evenly. Sprinkle buttered breadcrumbs over top.
6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until edges are bubbly and breadcrumbs are golden. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Try more comfort food recipes with Country Cooking Classics: Chicken Fried Steak and More.