cheddar and broccoli macaroni with pancetta

Yay, this month's recipe challenge was pasta and I decided to go with my roots and do a mac and cheese (please) recipe for you guys today! Be sure to check out all the amazing recipes everyone has for you today, including my other macaroni recipe for you on my other cheese macaroni with crushed pretzels!!

I am kind of a macaroni junkie. and of the homemade variety, keep that blue box to yourself. (unless it is 2 am and I am starving, in which case: delicious) I grew up with it being a staple my grandma made at pretty much every meal, you could count on that and biscuits. Hers is a simple elbow pasta, sharp cheese, and whole milk thrown together and baked and it is divine. I can't even try to replicate the goodness and therefore...I don't. My versions are gooey masses of different cheeses and cream. and pretty delicious in their own right. 

Today's macaroni dish is a simple, yet tantalizing version that was born from a twist on a classic soup I made last fall: my broccoli and cheddar soup with pancetta. The recipe is basically the same except I left out the broth and added in pasta. It is creamy and cheesy heaven with bites of crispy pancetta to round out the bite. 

I like a really gooey sauce and this recipe will show that. You can probably use less cream and cheese and it would still be quite tasty but you will pry those from me when I am dead;) I also only used about 3/4 of the lb of the pasta, you could probably use more or less. Again, this is suited to your taste. If you want a thicker sauce, add more cheese and if you want it slightly creamier, add more cream. You really can't go wrong. 

Also, I will say that I have used half and half for this recipe and it was more than fine. I wasn't the greatest fan of making it with milk, but you certainly can!

1 lb pasta cooked and drained

2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded colby jack
1 to 1 1/2 cup steamed broccoli (finely chopped, remove stems)
1/2 cup diced pancetta
 3/4 to 1 cup cream or half and half
salt/pepper to taste

in a sauce pan pour in the cream and add in the cheese, whisk on low to medium heat until completely melted. Once it has begun to thicken up, stir in the cooked and chopped broccoli, add in your salt/pepper.  In a saute pan, crisp up the pancetta on low heat. Toss the pasta with the broccoli cheddar sauce and pour into a serving dish. Top with the pancetta and serve.  You could also skip crisping the pancetta and place pasta into baking dish, add a little extra cheese, top with the pancetta and broil for about 5 minutes before serving. 

I do not add flour to this because it thickens up really nicely on its own, but you certainly can do that. I have also added red pepper flakes and garic salt. You really can't go wrong and can add any spices you would like. I also keep a little extra cream/cheese on hand in case my sauce needs a little more of each, I always just do a taste test before I add in the broccoli. 

I hope you enjoy this delicious version of macaroni that has the addition of broccoli...because it is totally a healthy dish;)

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