Lido Deck Test Kitchen, Coronary Edition: Carnival’s Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese

September 9, 2011 | By | 6 Comments

In August, Carnival Cruise Lines announced new main dining room menus, and while many cruisers were excited about the fresh choices, one particular section of the menus had some boiling. The new “comfort food” offerings, which include dishes such as roast chicken and meatloaf, caused deep disappointment among nostalgic readers longing for the fancy days of formal dress and filet mignon. (Click here for that debate.)
But one new comfort food option that’s sparking lustful yearnings is the decadent bacon mac ‘n’ cheese. Member lulu13 and others have requested the recipe, which prompted us to give it a go in the Lido Deck Test Kitchen.
A few notes:
  • This dish is not for the faint of heart, and I mean this literally. There is so much cream and cheese involved, that I wouldn’t be surprised if one serving caused irreparable damage to my arteries.
  • The recipe states a yield of 10 servings, but be prepared for lots of leftovers. I halved the recipe and still had enough for at least eight servings.
  • Surprisingly, the cheese sauce for this recipe is not roux-based. (A roux is a combination of flour and butter that is used to thicken many sauces, including bechamel sauces, which are typically used for macaroni and cheese.) Unsurprisingly, I found Carnival’s sauce a bit on the watery side.
  • While the method of preparation is different from any I’ve used in the past, it wasn’t complicated. Your biggest effort will be on the prep work. There are literally pounds and pounds of cheese to be grated — recruit a spouse, significant other or willing child to assist you. Plus, you’ll want to cook off your bacon and get your pasta cooking ahead of time, so it’ll all be ready when the cheese sauce is.
    First you’ll need to combine the cream and half-and-half in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. It’s important to really let these liquids come up to a full boil, as this is when the majority of the thickening will occur. Then you simply fold in the softer cheeses (brie, mascarpone, Swiss and half of the cheddar) and stir until it’s all melted and incorporated.
    Once the sauce is ready, add it to the drained pasta, crumble the bacon and toss it in, then pour it into individual ramekins (a la Carnival) or a casserole dish. Then top the pasta with the mozzarella, parmesan and remaining cheddar. Put the dish under the broiler until the cheese topping is brown and bubbly. Garnish with a few shards of crisp bacon and some parsley.
    As far as I’m concerned, the macaroni and cheese alone is beyond sufficient as a meal. But if you want to go all out, you can serve it with grilled chicken like Carnival does. (For the purposes of this blog, I baked up a chicken breast to go alongside as well, but couldn’t eat more than a few pieces.)
    So how comforting was Carnival’s bacon mac ‘n’ cheese? Well, I’d say this dish is a far cry from the macaroni and cheese I grew up with. It’s loaded with six different cheeses including fancy schmancy brie and mascarpone, and it’s certainly no blue-box special. While delicious, this is definitely an indulgence I’ll save for cruising. I usually make macaroni-and-cheese with whole wheat pasta, low-fat milk and vegetable stock, so I found the richness a bit shocking. Member Rockportgirl sums it up pretty well: “Holey moley — I gained 10 pound just reading that!”
    But if you have a special occasion coming up or want to impress your dinner party guests, I say go for it. Just be sure to have the Tums readily available.
    Check out the Cruise Critic forums to find the recipe for Carnival’s Bacon Mac n’ Cheese.
    Hungry for more of your favorites? Check out our past Lido Deck Test Kitchen escapades, including Carnival’s Warm Melting Chocolate Cake and RCI’s Bailey’s Banana Colada.
    Find out more about alternative dining.
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      6 Responses to “Lido Deck Test Kitchen, Coronary Edition: Carnival’s Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese”

      1. melissa
        September 9th, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

        the comfort foods are only an option!!! all the “elegant” food is still available. they have also added healthy choice food and an interesting new option called dija food (did ya ever want to try this). i think they have only added to the goodness already offered.

      2. Elizabeth Schaffer
        September 10th, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

        That’s overkill. Mac-n-cheese is a simple dish which makes it comfort food. Based on their recipe, YUCK…

      3. Cindy O'Neil
        September 12th, 2011 @ 8:30 am

        I had this dish last week on the Carnival Dream. It was absolutely delicious. Possibly my favorite dinner of the whole cruise.

      4. bg mcqueen
        September 16th, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

        tried this on the Destiny…delicious, but was very grateful for the taster portion i had, way way rich, but good! don’t know why people complained…do you use brie, mascarpone and bacon in YOUR mac and cheese? a new cruising favorite!

      5. alisa
        November 26th, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

        Just tasted this on the Conquest at the beginning of the month and………..OHMYGOODNESS!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, didn’t realize it had all those cheeses in it when I looked at the recipe just now but it was, without a single doubt, the best meal I ate the whole week. I had the main dish portion which included a grilled chicken breast on the top. I practically licked the plate clean. Even our head waiter commented that I hadn’t finished any meal all week and I finished this. I can’t wait to try the recipe so I can remind myself of being on a Carnival cruise. Thank you Carnival for the new creation AND for sharing the recipe. :)

      6. Valarie Holton
        June 30th, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

        I had this on my cruise in June 2014. can I please get the recipe. bacon mac & cheese my best meal ever.

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