- 8 ounces medium shells
- 12 ounces applewood-smoked bacon
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 pounds smoked Gouda cheese, chopped
- 1/4 pounds pepper jack cheese, chopped
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Ketchup, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, reducing the cooking time by 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pan, cook the bacon until crispy. Chop the bacon and set aside. Pour off all but 1/4 cup of the fat in the pan. Heat it over medium-high heat and add the flour, whisking until combined, then cook for 1 minute. Add half the milk, whisking continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the milk. Add the Gouda, pepper jack, and all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, and stir until the cheese melts. Stir in the paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and black pepper to taste.
- Fold in the shells and bacon, and transfer to the greased baking dish. Top with the panko, a pinch of salt, a few turns of pepper, and the reserved 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Bake until the top is browned, about 25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and enjoy with ketchup, if desired.