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January offers up an impressive menu of sports viewing options. College basketball is in full swing, the NBA season just hit its midpoint, and the conference championships are upon is in the NFL. Plus, the Australian Open just started, too!
But you know it’s winter when the New England Patriots are about to cakewalk their way into another Super Bowl. It’s agonizing. More importantly, though: it’s cold outside; you have no interest in leaving the house — that’s a given. Come on, this is the time of the year when you blow off plans with friends once you glance at the
thermostat weather app on your phone. “Well, I’d like to go out, but I’m gonna have to change out of these sweatpants, and…nah, I guess not.”
Here’s the thing, though, you can totally be antisocial and stay in, but you have to eat. And if you don’t eat, you will die. And if you die, you won’t get to see season five of The Americans — let alone the Warriors-Cavs trilogy this June. Both of which would be travesties.
Here’s a simple, yet hearty recipe that’s the perfect companion for a night on the couch watching hoops, or getting swallowed by a Netflixian blackhole: Jalapeño bacon macaroni and cheese.
To help me fully unlock my inner Guy Fieri — Bri Fieri! — I called upon the help of the best chef I know — my friend Julia. She gets a special shoutout. When she one day gets her own cooking show, SportsChannel8 better get a kickback.
12 oz. dry past (I used shells, but rotini or elbows would work, too)
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 jalapeño, minced (I actually used two in my batch because I’m strong and tough)
2 teaspoons of flour, all-purpose
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
5 slices of bacon
Most importantly: a lot of cheese (3 cups of sharp cheddar, chipotle habanero, colby jack — go crazy here, think Fieri)
What’s so great about this — other than excessive amounts of cheese — is the simplicity of the recipe. First, boil a large pot of salted water to boil, and then mix in the pasta. While this is happening, use the time to mince the peppers, like a pick and roll to NC State’s defense. Cut some round slices, too, for a nice garnish, fancy boy!
After about 10 minutes, drain the pasta and place that to the side. Next, set the stove to medium heat, and mix the flour and milk. Whisk until your concoction thickens. The fun part comes next: remove from heat, and add in all of your ingredients — jalapeño, cheese, salt, cayenne pepper and dry mustard. Stir that for a little bit.
Here’s where you can get a little creative, too. If you’d like to add some more heat, increase the pepper usage. Or maybe even toss in some Sriracha because why not.
We decided to bake the bacon in the oven because there were so many things cooking on the stove, but go with whatever you prefer. After the bacon is crispy, crumble it and stir that into the pot as well.
If I’ve learned anything from watching roughly 3,400 episodes of Chopped, presentation is a big deal. So make sure to plate this thing in an appealing fashion. Worth noting: this recipe makes a ton, too, so hurray for leftovers.
(Also, full disclosure: the picture at the top of this is from online. I intended to take a final shot once we were done cooking, and I did just that. Unfortunately, being the millennial moron that I am, I Snap Chatted the image because I’m dumb. It wasn’t until the next day when I realized, “Oh damn, I messed that up because I wanted social media karma.” Live and learn, you guys.)