Our latest craft beer pairing takes us to Colorado's first brewpub and Denver's first micro-brewery, Wynkoop Brewing Company. Their most popular beer, Rail Yard Ale, is a great complement to the grown up flavors of this mac and cheese; smooth caramel and fruity tones of the brew go down easy with the smoky, crunchy, richness of the pasta.
1 lb. Pappardelle's Plain Rooster Comb
2 chicken breasts
8 slices bacon
1-2 tablespoons butter, plus more for topping
4 tablespoons flour
4 c. milk
2 c. fontina cheese, shredded
2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1-1/2 c. smoked mozzarella, shredded
1-1/2 c. parmesan, shredded, plus more to grate on top
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper
1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until almost al dente, about 6-8 minutes.
2. Place a deep-sided saucepan over medium heat, adding enough oil to cover the bottom. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add to pan, cooking each side for about 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred into bite sized pieces.
3. Use the same pan and bring to medium heat. Add sliced bacon and cook until crispy; remove bacon pieces from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Carefully tip out bacon fat into a bowl or cup and place pan back on medium-low heat.
4. Measure out 2-3 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat and add back into the pan. Add enough butter to equal 4 tablespoons total. Add flour and whisk constantly until a roux forms and turns a bit toasty and golden. Pour in milk and whisk to incorporate; occasionally stir until thickened. Dip a spoon into the béchamel and run a finger down the back of the spoon; if the béchamel does not run together, it is ready, or known as nape.
5. Turn the heat to low and add fontina, cheddar, smoked mozzarella, and parmesan, stirring until all are melted. Add pasta, chicken, and bacon, and season with cayenne, salt, and pepper.
6. Tip mixture into a greased 9' x 13' baking dish. Top with panko, a few knobs of butter, and more parmesan, if desired. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. For a crunchier topping, broil for a few minutes before removing from oven. Let rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve with a cold Wynkoop Rail Yard Ale.