This Bacon Mac and Cheese will make you so happy! The creamy and cheesy sauce with a touch of smokiness from the bacon, coats each piece of pasta. You get the traditional cheesy backdrop from the cheddar and then more depth and nuttiness from the manchego. On top, crispy crunchy, indulgent bacon fat cracker crumbs!
Shred the manchego cheese and cheddar cheese
Chop the parsley. Crush the crackers. Dice the bacon.
Preheat a medium (about 8") frying pan. Add the diced bacon on medium heat. Stir so that the bacon doesn't burn. Render the fat and crip the bacon. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon leaving the fat behind and place on a plate to the side or store in the fridge if doing this in advance.
To the bacon fat still left in the pan, add a tbsp of butter and melt it stirring it into the bacon fat. Add the cracker crumbs and the parsley and mix to coat with the fat. Stir and toast in the pan on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside or store in fridge until ready to top the mac and cheese.
Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Once the pasta water is boiling, add a splash of Olive Oil and a pinch of salt. Add the pasta and stir so that it all is immersed in the water and doesn't stick it itself. Boil the pasta until al dente. Remove 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta. Leave the pasta in the strainer until the sauce is ready.
Make the cornstarch slurry by mixing the cornstarch into the cold milk.
Using the same pot that you used for the pasta, add the reserved 1 cup of pasta water plus 1 bouillon cube or chicken/vegetable base. Heat to simmer and dissolve the bouillon. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and add the cooked bacon pieces. Continue to whisk while it heats through and starts to thicken (about 2-3 minutes).
Whisk in the shredded cheeses and stir until it is completely combined and smooth.
Add in the cooked pasta and mix to combine. Pour the pasta and cheese sauce into a baking dish that is either loaf size 10" x 5" x 3.5" or 9" x 9" x 2". Add the cracker crumbs on top.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes just for the topping to get extra crispy.