Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Creamy Stovetop Bacon Mac and Cheese
- For the Creamy Stovetop Bacon Mac And Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 6 strips thick-cut smoked bacon, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 4 cups hot whole milk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard, or more as needed
- 8 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded (2 cups)
- 8 ounces Muenster cheese, shredded (2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- For the Baked Tomatoes
- 4 beefsteak tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Olive oil, for drizzling
For the mac and cheese: In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
Set an extra-large skillet, or a large heavy saucepan, over medium-low heat and cook the bacon until crispy and the fat renders out, 10 to 12 minutes. Set the bacon aside, reserving the fat to build your sauce. At this point you should have about 1/4 cup of reserved fat. If needed, add some olive oil or butter to make sure you have a 1/4 cup of fat in the pan.
Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the paste bubbles a bit, about 2 minutes (make sure it doesn't brown). Continuing to whisk, add 3 cups of the hot milk and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in the dry mustard, and then gradually add the Cheddar and Muenster cheeses, stirring constantly until all of the cheese has melted into the sauce. Stir in the hot sauce and the remaining 1 cup milk. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat. Stir in the crispy bacon and season with salt and pepper. You'll need 1 to 2 cups of mac and cheese for the tomatoes.
For the baked tomatoes: Set your oven rack to the middle position and preheat your oven to broil.
Using a paring knife, remove the tops of your tomatoes (the stem end), and then carefully hollow each one out with a spoon. You want to create a bowl, while removing all the seeds and some of the flesh, leaving about 1/2-inch of flesh in each tomato.
Season the inside of the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Then stuff each one with as much mac and cheese as you can, 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
Mix the panko, Parmesan and parsley together, and season with salt and pepper. Pile some of the breadcrumb topping onto each tomato. Each one will accommodate about 2 tablespoons of the topping. Now, drizzle the breadcrumbs with olive oil, so the panko browns up nicely.
Broil the tomatoes until the breadcrumb topping is golden brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes.