1 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups warm milk
5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
leaves from ¼ bunch fresh thyme
2 cups frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps form forming. Gradually whisk in the milk and, whisking vigorously, cook until the mixture is thick and smooth.
Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 ½ cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
While thats going, heat a 2 count of olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the bacon, onion, garlic and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. Fold in the peas and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, scatter the pea and bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoking pea mixture on each spoonful.