Some of you may not be aware of the wealth of pork I’ve been fortunate to have over the last 3 years. A friend who lives on a farm North of Austin has graciously let me purchase one the the pigs her youngest son (a high school student) raises and shows.
Being childless, well aside from the four-legged diva dog, I’m a sucker when confronted with “My <daughter/son> is selling <cookies/popcorn/pigs>, would you like to buy one?”. When first asked about buying a pig I said “sure” and walked back to my office… it was at that point that I started to ask myself what exactly had I agreed to… I didn’t even asked how much and had no idea what it consisted of. I followed up with a quick IM asking “oh by the way what did i just sign up for…”. A month or two later, on a crisp Austin afternoon, the first annual exchange took place in the parking lot of a big box home improvement store. I’m guessing it looked a bit odd… a large pick-up truck arrives to meet a waiting car, coolers come out, product is transferred, money is exchanged, they drive off… but this was more special than that, this was when began my love affair with my Wilburs.
While the Wilburs are not “certified” organic, they are loving raised by a great family. They are fed all kinds of yummy, high quality food, and without fail have produced the best pork I’ve ever tasted. Each year my Wilbur has had some variation. Years one and two included link sausage and pork chops, year two included a ham but by far the best part of Wilbur is his bacon. Thick-cut and cured the bacon is the best. Cooked in the cast iron on the grill or baked in the oven it’s quality can’t be beat.
Wilbur 2011 has started off with a bang… a bacon wrapped tenderloin stuffed with Date Walnut Pesto, a large pot of pasta sauce using 4 lbs of ground sausage, and now paired up with a musical legend, the great Patti LaBelle.
So technically Wilbur didn’t meet the music legend but rather partnered with her Over the Rainbow Mac and Cheese and some Roasted Green Chilies to produce a glorious number that quite possibly could be the best Mac & Cheese I’ve ever had… Sorry Paula Dean, yours had been my favorite for the last few years.
So I made a few modifications to Madame LaBelle’s great recipe. First I added chopped, cooked bacon. I used my precious Wilbur and cooked the bacon on a foil lined baking sheet in the oven. I pulled the bacon to cool and ran out for a minute to drop off some cake at the neighbors who invited me in to catch up and have a glass of wine so when I returned the bacon grease had congealed back on the bacon. I scraped most of it off but left a little for added flavor. Mod 2 was the addition of Roasted Green Chilies. These were Medium heat, from a jar, and I used about 3/4 cup. Mod 3 was the use of Velveeta 2% Milk instead of regular figuring the bacon would make up for the reduced fat. Mod 4 (unintentional) was using low-salt Muenster cheese because that’s what i accidentally bought. The final mod was using a touch of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning in place of Patti’s Seasoned Sea Salt.
Assembly and prep were simple. Boil and drain pasta, melt butter, mix cheese, etc and then the glorious trio was ready to hit the oven, merging into a bubbly masterpiece.