- 1 lb short pasta of choice (elbows, shells, penne, etc)
- 4 strips of bacon, diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 jalapeño peppers, sliced (seeded if you like less heat)
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or pressed
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water liberally and then cook the pasta to el dente, according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, crisp the bacon in a large cast-iron skillet.** Remove the bacon and reserve.
- To the drippings, add the butter and when melted, add the onions and jalapeños. Cook for a couple minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
- Whisk the flour into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk very slowly, and then bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Add in the grated cheeses and stir until melted and creamy. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add the bacon and pasta and toss to coat everything in the sauce.
- Top the pasta with the breadcrumbs and drizzle lightly with oil. Place under the broiler for 1 minute, watching closely, until the breadcrumbs are toasty and golden. Serve immediately.
- If you don’t have a large oven-safe skillet, make the sauce in a saucepot and once the pasta is tossed with the sauce, transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Proceed with the breadcrumbs as noted above.