Crispy bacon, extra-creamy cheese sauce, pears sauteed in brown sugar and butter. It took our Test Kitchen three tries to get all the pieces right. Oh man, was it worth it.

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Ingredients

Directions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return pasta to hot pan; cover to keep warm. Set aside.

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  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, turning once. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving 3 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet. Crumble and set aside. Reserve 3 tablespoons bacon drippings in skillet.

  • Cook onion and garlic in bacon drippings over medium heat for 30 seconds. Stir in flour, dry mustard and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Add smoked Gouda cheese and cream cheese; cook and stir until almost melted.

  • Pour cheese sauce over the cooked pasta. Stir in oregano and all but 2 tablespoons of the crumbled bacon. Transfer mixture to an ungreased to 2-quart rectangular baking dish; cover with foil. Bake in a 350° oven for 25 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a clean, large skillet. Stir in brown sugar; add pear slices. Cook, turning occasionally, until pears are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove foil from the baking dish. Stir about half of the cooked, sliced pears into the macaroni and cheese. Spoon the remaining pear slices atop macaroni and cheese; sprinkle with Parmesan and reserved crumbled bacon. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes or until Parmesan has softened. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts

586 calories; 33 g total fat; 104 mg cholesterol; 649 mg sodium. 52 g carbohydrates; 22 g protein;

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