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Psychedelicatessen: Baked Mac n’ Cheese With Bacon

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Welcome to Psychedelicatessen, a weekly column exploring the world of cannabis cuisine, including recipes from the great chefs and ganjapreneurs who fuel our appetite for adventure.

Growing up in Santa Cruz, Little Heather learned alternative values as taught by hippie parents, including the benefits of a natural, organic lifestyle. As a young woman, Heather has translated these values into her cooking, creating cannabis-infused edibles using high-quality ingredients. After winning a second place prize at a local cannabis contest, Heather decided, “Yes, I should do this!” and embarked on creating her own business, Little Heather’s Edibles, teaming up with her friend Khalil at the newly formed Kind People’s Collective. With such deep roots in the local community, Heather connected with local, organic cannabis farmers, and uses their finest products to infuse into her foods. “I’m an advocate for cold-water hash,” Heather proclaims, “BHO is so new that we don’t know how long-term use could affect us.”

Many Santa Cruz locals have started a backlash against BHO, favoring cold-water hash instead for its safety, purity and incredible flavor. “There’s a bitter taste to solvents,” Heather says, “but cold-water hash is earthy and a lot of people really enjoy that flavor.” Working with Kind People’s and a few California delivery services, Little Heather focuses on providing artisanal quality baked goods and confections, including infused ice creams through her co-venture with Kind Creamery. Her caramel corn is a bestseller, along with ginger snaps and custom orders for high-end cakes.

Heather’s recipe for Baked Mac n’ Cheese is deliciously decadent, due to the addition of bacon as well as crumbled cheesy crackers for the crisp topping. “Most people don’t think about adding hash butter to savory dishes,” Heather says, “but I love dairy with cannabis, it’s so fatty and adds a lot of flavor.” Portion this pasta into smaller ramekins for better control over dosage and serving size, and watch your guests devour this cheesy comfort food staple. The secret weapon is the cheese crackers, which Heather says “kick it up a notch!”

“Baked” Mac n’ Cheese with Bacon

Makes an 8” casserole or 12 individual ramekins

Ingredients:

For Topping

¼ stick unsalted butter, melted

2 c. favorite cheese crackers finely crushed or breadcrumbs

1 c. coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

¼ c. finely grated or ground parmesan cheese

½ teaspoons garlic powder

For Cheese Sauce and Pasta

8 slices of thick-cut bacon or Tempeh Fakin’ Bakin

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons all-purpose butter

½ red pepper flakes

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 ¾ cups whole milk

¾ cups heavy cream

4 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon cannabutter or hash butter

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoons paprika

Small Handful each of fresh basil and parsley finely chopped

¾ pound elbow macaroni or your favorite shaped pasta

Directions:

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat oven to 400°F. Place bacon in a single layer on perforated pan or cooling rack and place over baking sheet or pan to catch drips. Bake 10-15 minutes or until desired crispiness. Let cool, then chop or crumble and set aside.

Meanwhile make the topping by mixing together the melted butter, cracker crumbs, cheeses and garlic powder. (I like to crush the crackers by placing into a ziplock bag and using a rolling pin to break into small crumbs or a Cuisinart works great too.) Set the topping aside.

For the sauce, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, pepper flakes and garlic and whisk constantly for 3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly pour in milk and continue to whisk until boiling. Once boiling, let simmer for another 3 minutes whisking occasionally. Stir in cream, cheddar, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, herbs and the canna/hash butter. Once cheese is melted, take off heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water (1 Tablespoon salt for every 4 quarts of water) until al dente. Drain pasta making sure to reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Stir together sauce, pasta, reserved pasta water and the bacon. Pour into a buttered baking dish or 12 individual buttered ramekins. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top and bake until bubbling and golden, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before indulging and serve with mixed baby greens.

(Side note: I use bubble-hash butter which contains about 240 mg THC per tablespoon. If not available for purchase you can make your own infusion by heating the butter with hash or cannabis on low heat for a few hours and then straining when finished.)

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