The sweet smell of something other than turkey leftovers is fantastic a week after Thanksgiving, at least in my house where buying a turkey that weighs more than you can lift is a factor in choosing just the right one.
And since I think that the sweet smell of maple bacon is always fantastic, I think you can guess how I'm feeling right about now.
I do love peameal bacon, especially the peameal bacon sandwiches from the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, but I truly believe that maple bacon is a little more Canadian than its cornmeal rolled counterpart.
Even if you don't agree with me, I think I might be able to persuade you in thinking that maple bacon is great and you need to try this Maple Bacon Macaroni.
2 cups macaroni, measured raw and then cooked
8 strips of maple bacon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups sliced mushrooms, shiitake or button
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Start by crisping your bacon in a frying pan until it reaches your desired doneness. Remove the bacon and set on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the extra fat. Chop bacon into small pieces when cool.
2. Next prepare your sauce. Melt your butter in a medium pot at medium heat and stir in your flour. When a paste forms, gradually add in your milk and mustard. Whisk and allow your sauce to come to a boil to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. While your sauce is cooking, saute your mushrooms and onions in the olive oil. I usually wipe out the bacon fat from the pan I cooked my bacon in and use it a second time. I know most chefs wouldn't approve, but they have dishwashers and it's all going in the same casserole anyway. Saute your mushrooms and onions until they soften and the onions start to brown slightly, about 5 minutes.
4. Combine the pasta, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, the sauce, the peas (still frozen is ok), and the mushrooms and onions in a large casserole dish. I use a lasagna pan. Toss the pasta to combine and sprinkle the bacon and remaining cheese on top.
5. Place casserole under the broiler to melt and slightly brown cheese, about 1-2 minutes.