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:
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.
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