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California Mac 'n' Cheese with Bacon



– 8 oz. elbow macaroni – 3 tbsp. Real California butter, plus more for the baking dish – 4 scallions, thinly sliced, or 1/4 cup diced onion – 1/4 tsp. minced garlic – 1/4 cup all-purpose flour – 2 1/2 cups Real California whole milk – 1 1/4 cups Real California ricotta fresca, divided – 1/2 cup shredded Real California white Cheddar cheese, divided – 1/2 cup shredded Real California sharp Cheddar cheese, divided – 6 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled – Salt and pepper
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Serves 4 to 6

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse with hot water, and set aside.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 2 1/2-qt. baking dish with butter and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the scallions and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the flour and stir until well blended. Add the milk and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the ricotta and 1/4 cup of each of the Cheddar cheeses, stirring until the cheeses melt. Add the macaroni and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the macaroni mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with small spoonfuls of the remaining 1/4 cup of ricotta and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of each of the Cheddar cheeses. Top with the crumbled bacon and bake until lightly browned and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.

Note: Look for ricotta fresca in the specialty cheese department. If you can’t find it, substitute fresh mozzarella.

By K C. from Modesto, California

Now that fall has arrived, what better way to enjoy the cooler weather than some homemade mac 'n cheese? In college, I could only afford the box mac 'n cheese, but with all of the wonderful varieties of California cheeses to choose from, now I make my very own special version.