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Shells and cheese with peas and bacon

September 5, 2012
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Serves 8

A great way to welcome everyone back to the table, this gooey, cheesy dish will appeal to kids.

Butter (for the dish)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1pound pasta shells
½pound thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
1small onion, chopped
¾cup flour
4cups milk, heated until warmed
12ounces (about 3 cups) shredded cheddar
Pinch of nutmeg
1bag (16 ounces) frozen peas
¼cup grated Parmesan
¼cup breadcrumbs

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until it is tender but still has some bite. Drain but do not rinse; return pasta to the pot.

3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, render the bacon for 10 minutes or until crispy and golden. Use tongs to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard off all but ¼ cup fat.

4. Turn the heat under the skillet to medium. Cook the onion, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and whisk until it is incorporated. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes or until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the cheddar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

5. Tip the sauce into the pot of pasta. Add the bacon and peas. Stir well. Transfer to the baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes, or until heated through. Turn on the broiler. Slide the dish about 8 inches from the element and broil for 3 minutes, watching it closely so the topping does not burn, or until golden. Karoline

Boehm Goodnick

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