Filson Food: Fire Baked Mac & Cheese with Boar Bacon Burnt Ends

hand holding wooden spoon scooping mac and cheese out of cast iron skillet

Here is a grown-up version of a dish we all loved as kids—and some of us never really grew out of.

With the addition of a few spices, aged Gruyere cheese, and boar bacon, this take on mac and cheese will speak to your now-refined adult palate but still please the kid in you. The best part is you don’t have to hide your love for mac and cheese anymore, because this grown-up version is more than acceptable to serve to your friends.



10 oz Slab boar bacon, diced into 1-inch cubes (Regular pork bacon will work as a substitution.)

2 Cup Sourdough bread, diced into 1-inch cubes

2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 sprig Rosemary, stripped and chopped

1 lb Short, curly dried pasta. Lumache (Italian for “snails”) was used for this recipe for its short shape and large holes designed to hold lots of sauce.



Cheese Sauce:

4 Tbsp Butter

4 Tbsp Flour

5 Cups Whole milk

1 Cups Shredded Mozzarella cheese

2½ Cups Shredded aged Gruyère cheese

¾ Cups Shredded smoked applewood Cheddar cheese

1 Tbsp Onion powder

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Smoked paprika

¾ tsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Salt

2 tsp Sambal Olek. Substitute any chili paste of your choice.

spices and shredded cheese for mac and cheese



  1. Preheat a convection oven
  2. Place the diced bacon in a heavy cast iron pan and roast it in the oven, turning regularly until the bacon is dark brown on the outside but still moist inside, approximately 15 to 25 minutes. Drain the excess bacon fat from the pan periodically during cooking.
  3. Once cooked, remove from the oven, cool, and rough cut the bacon into ½” pieces.


  1. Toss the diced sourdough bread with olive oil, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake until crunchy and just starting to color, approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Once the croutons are cool, transfer them to a cutting board along with the plucked rosemary, and rough chop until the croutons are no bigger than ¼”.
knife chopping bread crumbs next to bacon bits


  1. Boil the pasta in salted water until it is cooked but still firm. This will likely be 1 to 2 minutes less than the cooking directions on the packaging (the pasta will continue to cook during the rest of the assembly and baking process).
  2. Drain well.
adding pasta shells to boiling water

Cheese Sauce:

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour.
  2. Toast the butter and flour mixture for 1 to 2 minutes or until it begins to smell nutty. If the mixture begins to darken at all, continue to the next step right away.
  3. Whisk a third of the milk into the pot until the flour mixture is fully incorporated.
  4. Repeat with the remaining milk in two batches and bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes to cook out the flour.
  6. Whisk in the remainder of the ingredients until the sauce is smooth.
  7. Taste the sauce and adjust the spices and salt to your taste.


  1. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well.
  2. Place the mac and cheese in a shallow baking dish or cast iron pan and scatter the bacon on top, lightly pressing the bacon into the pasta.
  3. Sprinkle the cut croutons over the top of the pasta and bake in a 400°F convection oven until the top is dark brown and crunchy.