WHISKEY CANDIED BACON:
10 slices bacon
1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey or whiskey of your choice
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
MACARONI & CHEESE:
1 pound macaroni pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
2 cups milk
3 cups medium or sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices provolone cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat. On a plate, combine brown sugar and cayenne. Dip bacon into Jack Daniels and then press each side into brown sugar mixture to coat. Place on prepared baking sheet.Bake for 7 minutes, then flip and bake for about 5 minutes. Watch the bacon so it doesn’t burn!! (The sugar will run all over the pan, and the bacon with have a shiny lacquered look.) Remove the bacon to a plate coated with non-stick cooking spray to cool completely. Chop bacon; set aside.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain pasta; set aside. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour, and whisk to combine. (You will have a tight roux.) Add 1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s and whisk into roux. Whisk in 1 cup milk until combined. Add remaining milk. Whisk frequently until sauce thickens and begins to bubble. Add cheeses; whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth. Add paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over pasta, and add bacon. Stir until pasta is completely coated in sauce. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
Watch your bacon like a hawk! The sugar can go from awesome to burnt quickly if you’re not paying attention.
NOTES FROM JAMES
I totally skip the candied bacon and just air fry the bacon and chop it up. The flavor it adds is wonderful. I am a little heavy handed with the Jack Daniel’s (only when cooking!!!) It will burn off once it cooks down. It freezes well.