Mac Cheese with Bacon Zaatar


1. Preheat the oven to 180 fan. Line a baking sheet with foil and add the bacon. Cut the tops off the garlic so the cloves are exposed and pop them into a piece if tin foil. Drizzle over the oil and add a pinch of salt. Wrap up tightly and place onto the baking sheet with the bacon. Roast everything together. The bacon will take about 25-30 minutes to go super crispy. Place onto kitchen paper for a few minutes to dry out. The garlic will take about 1 hour until gooey and tiny bit golden. Once cool, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins and mash into a paste.
2. Using your hands, break the bacon up into crumbs over a bowl. Add the zaatar and mix together.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the flour. Mix well. Add the milk, a splash at a time, whisking continuously, until absorbed before adding more. Once all incorporated, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking regularly, for 5 minutes to cook out the flour and thicken the sauce. Add the cheese, garlic paste and a good pinch of salt to the white sauce. Mix well and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes until the cheese has melted.
4. Cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes or according to packet instructions until al dente. Scoop out 300ml of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.
5. Pour 200ml of the pasta water into the cheese sauce and whisk together until smooth. Add the pasta and stir together. Check the seasoning first, it will need plenty of salt at this stage. If it’s not creamy enough, add around 50ml more pasta water.
6. To serve, divide the pasta between 6 bowls and scatter over the bacon zaatar. Grab a spoon and dive on in.


Serves 6

2 bulbs garlic
2 tsp olive oil
6 rashers of streaky bacon
2 tbsp zaatar
50g butter
50g plain flour
500ml whole milk
500g cavatappi (twirly) pasta
100g grated mozzarella
100g grated Cheddar
Salt and pepper

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