When I am in the mood for something decadent, this is my go to dish. The title may deceive you just a tad, because this is a dairy free dish. Don’t let that scare you! Try it my way or use full dairy products if you prefer. This is a great make ahead meal, because you can start it, pause, top, bake, and no one will know you started it this morning for dinner tonight!
This recipe starts with? You guessed it! Bacon! Cut one-half pound of slab bacon into strips and brown in a large skillet over medium heat.
Once the bacon is nicely browned and all the fat is rendered, remove from the skillet to a paper towel lined plate.
This is where we get truly decadent, and why we do not eat like this every day. Leave the rendered bacon fat right where it is and add about one-half cup of flour to make the roux.
Stir the roux until it takes on a nice sandy consistency.
Add in one cup of plain almond milk and whisk until smooth. At this point it starts to look like a white gravy. You can also use plain soy milk or plain old cow’s milk if you prefer. As you continue making the sauce, add more of your milk of choice as the sauce thickens up too much. I typically use a total of two cups.
Time to add in four ounces of your favorite dairy free cream cheese and two tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Or for the dairy crowd, four ounces of cream cheese and two tablespoons of parmigiana reggiano. Again, whisk until smooth.
Add in four ounces of dairy free cheddar, whisk until smooth, and then add additional four ounces and whisk until smooth again. Cheddar cheese works here also.
Add in four ounces of dairy free sour cream, and again whisk until smooth. I think you should be getting the idea by now, but full dairy sour cream would also work.
What you end up with is this rich, decadent, dairy free cheese sauce. No one ever misses the dairy when I serve mac and cheese around here!
Add back in half of the browned bacon, salt and ancho chili powder and stir well to combine. I used peppered bacon. If you used plain bacon, add in some fresh cracked black pepper here as well.
While you were hard at work whisking, one pound of pasta will have cooked two minutes shy of the package directions. It will cook the rest of the way in the oven. For this recipe I used campanelle. Add the pasta to the dairy free cheese sauce.
Gently stir in the pasta until well combined.
Empty into a greased baking pan. It is very important to grease the pan so your mac and cheese doesn’t stick when you are ready to serve it. If you are making ahead, stop here, cool and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 350*. If you made ahead, bring to room temperature before placing in the oven. Bake covered for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven, stir well, and top with remaining bacon and an additional sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Place back in the oven uncovered.
Remove from oven when slightly browned and crunchy on top. This takes about another fifteen minutes.
Scoop out on your favorite plate and enjoy! I served with some homemade stewed tomatoes to cut the richness just a little.