1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package and drained
8 slices thick-cut bacon
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
4 cups whole or 2% milk (don’t use skim)
4 tablespoons flour 1 large shallot, minced
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Cook bacon in batches until crispy and fat is rendered and drain bacon on paper towels before crumbling. Reserve bacon fat.
In a medium saucepan, fry shallot in four tablespoons bacon fat over medium heat until lightly browned, about two minutes. Whisk in flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Continue whisking five to seven minutes until roux is a reddish-brown color. Add milk and gently bring to a boil.
When sauce has thickened, temper in the egg yolk by gradually whisking a cup of the sauce into a bowl with the yolk. Then, gradually whisk the sauce-yolk mixture back into the rest of the sauce. Remove from heat and mix in cheese.
Combine sauce and macaroni and serve with crumbled bacon and your choice of toppings. Here are a few suggestions:
Apple-shallot topping and fresh chopped sage
(To make topping: Saute a diced granny smith apple and sliced shallot in bacon fat or butter until browned. Add a teaspoons of red wine vinegar and cook until liquid has evaporated.)
Sriracha drizzle and chopped scallions
Barbecue sauce and crispy onion straws