“Since I first baked eggs directly into my mac and cheese in 2016, there have been a lot of duplicates on the internet, so I HAD to show you how to make the OG. This breakfast mac and  cheese with baked eggs is arguably THE most indulgent way to start the day. You have velvety egg yolks that flow into a pool of gooey cheese, which I’ve amped up from my original cheddar cheese base with the addition of smoked cheddar for even more flavor and mozzarella to make it extra melty and stretchy for those cheese-pulls. Then there’s the pop of roasted cherry tomatoes to the balance out the richness with sweet acidity, and it’s finished off with crispy bacon and that sought-after layer of buttered, toasted bread crumbs what melds with a top layer of golden cheese.”

“This flavor combination brings an upgraded take on nostalgia, but it’s also easy to customize. I’ve made this with buffalo chicken instead of bacon and roasted tomatoes, and have also done a base of pesto-mozzarella with bacon. Try it with Comté and ham to make a croque madame-style breakfast mac, Gruyère with caramelized onions and mushrooms for an earthy vegetarian version or use a Mexican cheese blend and chorizo topped with crushed tortilla chips to spice things up. Just make sure you’re using 8 10 123 ounces (226 to 340 g) of cheese each time to keep the right consistency and enough cheese flavor in the sauce. Have fun coming up with your own version of my breakfast mac!”

From Indulgent Eats at Home by Jen Balisi, recipe reprinted with permission from Jen Balisi and Page Street Publishing.

The OG Breakfast Mac Attack

Ingredients

Makes 4 servings Mix-Ins (substitute with your chosen ingredients).
  • 6oz (170 g) grabe or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 strips bacon
Breakfast Mac
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8oz (226 g) cavatippi (substitute with chifferi, elbow macaroni, fusilli or pipette)
Bélchamel Cheese Sauce
  • 1 3/4 cups (420 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (16 g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne, plus more to taste
  • 8oz (226 g) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded from the block
  • 3oz (85 g) smoked cheddar or smoked Gouda cheese, shredded from the block (substitute with another smoked cheese, or cheddar, Pepper Jack or another cheese that melts easily)
  • 30z (85 g) shredded mozzarella
  • 2oz (57 g) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter
  • 1/4 cup (21 g) panko bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • Chopped scallions, optional

Directions

Roast the cherry tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 400º (200ºC). Cut the tomatoes in half and toss with extra virgin olive oil, dried basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread in a roasting pan and bake for 25 minutes on the center rack of the oven, then set aside.

Cook the bacon while the tomatoes are roasting. Line a baking tray with foil and lay a metal rack over the foil. Lay the strips of bacon across the rack and bake it on the top rack of the oven until golden-brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and lay on the paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess grease. Then, chop the bacon into small pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Fill a pot of water about halfway and bring it to a vigorous boil. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water, then add the pasta and underook it to 1 minute less than the package cooking instructions for al dente. Drain and set asie.

Start the béchamel sauce after you add the pasta to the boiling water. Heat the whole milk until hot but not boiling, about 2 minutes in the microwave or over medium heat on the stove. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, then gradually whisk in the flour, continuing to cook and whisking constantly until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the hot milk a little at a time, whisking constantly, until smooth. Bring to a boil and stir in the mustard powder and cayenne, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes to finish the creamy béchamel sauce.

Finish your cheese sauce. In a large bowl, combine the sharp cheddar cheese, smoked cheddar, mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano. Reserve a large handful to top the mac later. Add the rest of the cheese to the béchamel sauce and stir until fully melted into a creamy cheese sauce. Taste and add salt, pepper and cayenne as desired.

Mix the mac. Add the cooked pasta back into the large pot, then pour the cheese sauce and stir until the pasta is fully coated. Reserve one strip worth of chopped bacon, then add the rest to the pot along with the roasted tomatoes and stir until just combined. Transfer the mac and cheese to a cast-iron skillet or baking pan and top with the reserved cheese.

Prepare the bread crumbs. Melt the butter and toss the panko bread crumbs in the butter to coat. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and reserved chopped bacon evenly on top of the mac and cheese. Bake for 7 minutes.

Prepare the eggs. The reason we bake the mac  first is that you want to develop a crispy, golden-brown topping on the mac and cheese, which takes longer than it does for eggs to bake in the oven. Egg whites generally take longer to set than yolks, so I prefer separating my egg whites and yolks and adding the yolk at the end to keep it as runny as possible. I find it also looks better for photos since the egg yolk sits on top of the egg white instead of bing enveloped in it. If you don’t care about this, then skip this step. Otherwise, separate the egg whites and egg yolks, keeping each egg yolk inside half of the egg shell or a small pinch bowl–this will keep it from breaking and also act as a spoon to make it easy to drop the yolks into the mac later.

Add the eggs to the mac. Briefly remove the mac and cheese from the oven and use a large spoon to make four wide wells in the mac and cheese. If you skipped separating the egg yolks, just add an entire egg into each well and bake for 13 minutes so the mac and cheese bakes for a total of 20 minutes. Otherwise, fill each well with an even amount of egg white. Make for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are almost set. Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and carefully add an egg yolk into each well so the yolk sits on top of the egg white. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes so the crust is crispy, the egg whites are set and the egg yolks are still runny.

Serve the breakfast mac. Remove from the oven and top with chopped scallions, if desired. Let sit for a few minutes before serving–this is a great time for photo taking. Then, use a spoon to break into those eggs and mix the yolk into the gooey cheese and enjoy.
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