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Recipe: Carbonara Garlic Mac & Cheese

How to make this fan-favorite recipe from the DCA Food & Wine Festival at home.


The Carbonara Garlic Mac & Cheese was a fan-favorite at the 2024 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. Since the festival has wrapped up, it’s the perfect time to recreate this recipe at home! Luckily the Disney Parks chefs have shared the recipe for this dish and even made a TikTok with Chef Goofy showing you how to make it! 


Carbonara Garlic Mac & Cheese

Carbonara Garlic Mac & Cheese

Inspired by Disney’s official recipe

Yields 6-8 servings


Ingredients:

Crispy Garlic Bacon

  • 1 pound bacon, diced 

  • ¼ cup bacon fat 

  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped 


Breadcrumb Topping

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter 

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs 

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 

  • ½ shallot, minced 

  • ⅛ teaspoon salt 


Garlic Carbonara Mac & Cheese

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni 

  • ½ cup bacon fat 

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

  • 1 cup heavy cream 

  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese 

  • 1 ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided 

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

  • ¼ cup chopped parsley, for garnish 


Instructions:

Crispy Garlic Bacon

  1. In a pan over medium heat, cook bacon until it begins to crisp. Remove from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Carefully reserve ¾ cup bacon fat, divided into ¼ cup and ½ cup portions.

  2. Return ¼ cup of the reserved bacon fat to the pan and add garlic. Set aside the remaining bacon fat to use in the cheese sauce later.

  3. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat. 

  4. Reduce heat to low and add reserved chopped bacon. Stir until combined. 

  5. Drain on paper towels and set aside until ready to serve. 


Breadcrumb Topping

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter. 

  3. Add minced garlic and shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant. 

  4. Place panko in a small bowl. 

  5. Carefully pour the garlic-butter mixture over the panko and stir with a fork to combine. 

  6. Spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly on a baking sheet. 

  7. Bake for 3 minutes, then remove from the oven to mix around. 

  8. Return it to the oven to bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until it is golden brown. 

  9. Set aside until ready to serve. 


Garlic Carbonara Mac & Cheese

  1. Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. 

  2. To a large saucepan over low to medium heat, add the remaining ½ cup reserved bacon fat.

  3. Add flour and whisk constantly for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is golden brown and begins to bubble. 

  4. Be careful not to burn the mixture. If you do not have enough bacon fat left over, you can add in melted salted butter to make up the difference.

  5. As soon as your bacon fat and flour mixture turns golden brown, increase the heat to medium and add heavy cream. Continue to whisk constantly until it reaches 160°F. 

  6. Add pepper jack cheese, ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Continue to whisk until the cheese is fully melted. 

  7. Add pasta to the saucepan and stir until fully combined. 

  8. Add about half of your bacon to the pan and stir until evenly distributed.

  9. Spoon into serving bowls and top with Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, bacon, and parsley. 


Review:

This mac and cheese tastes delicious! The Crispy Garlic Bacon was my favorite part of the dish and I also loved the addition of the Panko breadcrumbs on top. I made some modifications to Disney’s recipe after trying it and those are all included above. 


This recipe had a lot of moving parts so it might be easier to attempt it with a sous chef to help you out. If you do have two people working on it, you can cook the Crispy Garlic Bacon and Panko at the same time. 


When I first made this, I burnt the bacon fat and flour mixture, but luckily was able to recreate it with melted salted butter instead of bacon fat for my second attempt. The key is to whisk it constantly and watch it closely so that as soon as it starts to get golden brown, you can add in the heavy whipping cream. The original recipe says to heat the reserved bacon fat for three minutes over medium heat, but this is what caused my first attempt to burn. As long as your bacon fat has not solidified, you shouldn’t need to heat it on its own first before adding the flour. 


This recipe does make a lot of servings but it actually reheats very well as leftovers! I would even say that I liked it more when it was reheated because the sauce melted together more and coated the noodles more smoothly.

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