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- Kernels from 3 to 4 large ears sweet corn (about 3 cups), cobs saved (optional)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried shell or elbow pasta
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as grapeseed or avocado)
- 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 4 large shallots, grated (about ½ cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 bunch chives, thinly sliced, for garnish
Love mac and cheese but want to give it a summery twist? Sweet corn mac and cheese embraces the bounty of in-season produce to create a creamy yet cheesy sauce, free of any milk! The pasta is topped with crispy bacon and fresh chives for an unbeatable summer dinner that will get on the table fast without breaking the bank!
Special kitchen equipment required: Blender.
Technique Tip: Add the cheese 1 cup at a time, stirring continuously to prevent the sauce from breaking. Adding reserved cobbs to the water imparts a subtle corn flavor into the pasta.
Swap option: Bacon can be swapped for pancetta and fresh corn can be swapped for frozen.
Bring a large pot of water and reserved corn cobs (if using) to a boil over high heat. Heavily salt the water, add the pasta, and cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and reserve 2 ½ cups of pasta water for later.2.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 4-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain onto a paper-towel lined plate. Once cool, chop the bacon into smaller pieces (about 1/4-inch).3.
Add shallots to the same pan with the rendered bacon fat, season with salt to taste, and cook over medium heat until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the corn kernels, red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes more.4.
Transfer the corn mixture to a blender along with ½ cup reserved pasta water and blend until smooth. Off the heat, add the sauce back to the skillet along with ½ cup pecorino or parmesan cheese and ½ cup pasta water. Stir to combine. Alternate between 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and ¼ cup pasta water, stirring continuously to make sure the cheese emulsifies and melts into a smooth sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix to combine. Add a little more pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.5.
Divide the pasta among bowls, top with chives, bacon, and more pecorino cheese and enjoy!