Darren Purchese’s bacon mac and cheese

This bacon mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Served with a zesty broccoli salad, it’s a must-try.





  • 1/2 Coles Turkish Pide, torn into 2cm chunks
  • Olive oil, to drizzle
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stem peeled and sliced into 1/2cm-thick discs
  • 400g macaroni
  • 175g rindless bacon, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 600ml milk
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 250g tasty cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
  • 100ml olive oil, extra
  • 2 1/2 tbs red wine vinegar



Preheat oven to 165°C. Arrange the pide on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Bake for 20 mins or until golden and crisp. Cut 1 garlic clove in half. Rub warm pide with the cut-side of the garlic. Transfer croutons to a bowl and set aside to cool.


Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the broccoli florets and stem and cook for 3 mins or until bright green and tender. Refresh under cold water. Drain.


Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.


Heat a splash of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and 2 shallots. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 mins or until the shallot softens. Finely grate the remaining garlic clove. Add grated garlic to the bacon mixture and cook until the bacon starts to turn golden brown. Transfer the bacon mixture to a plate.


Place the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole pan over low heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 1 min. Gradually add the milk, whisking well after each addition. Stir and continue to cook for 1 min or until smooth and combined. Add 200g cheddar and stir until well combined. Add the bacon mixture and stir to combine.


Add macaroni to the cheese sauce in the pan with a little of the reserved cooking liquid, if necessary. Add the parsley and stir to combine. 


Use a rolling pin to crush the croutons into smaller pieces. Sprinkle croutons and the remaining cheddar over the macaroni mixture. Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown and heated through.


Combine the remaining shallot and chilli, if using, in a medium bowl. Add the lemon rind and half the lemon juice. Whisk in the extra olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broccoli and toss to combine. Drizzle with the vinegar. 


Divide the macaroni mixture and broccoli mixture among serving plates to serve.

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.