Bacon Pimento Macaroni and Cheese
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 6 bacon slices
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
- Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- One 4-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cracked black pepper
- 1 pound small penne pasta or macaroni, cooked, drained and kept warm
- 3 cups shredded smoked Cheddar
- 3 cups shredded Parmesan
Preheat the broiler. Spray five 1-cup ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from the Dutch oven and drain on paper towels. Reserve 1/4 cup bacon drippings in the Dutch oven, and discard any remaining drippings. Crumble the bacon set aside.
Add the butter to the drippings, and heat over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Whisk in the flour, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, and cook until the mixture is thickened and smooth, whisking constantly.
Add the ground red pepper. Stir in the cream cheese and let melt. Add the pimentos and bacon. Season with the salt and pepper. Add 2 cups smoked Cheddar and 2 cups Parmesan.
Spoon the pasta mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins. Top with the remaining 1 cup Cheddar and 1 cup Parmesan. Broil until cheese is lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.