1 Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain well.2 Melt 25g of the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Remove. Wipe pan clean.
3 Melt remaining butter in same saucepan until foamy. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Gradually add hot milk, stirring until sauce is boiling and thickened. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar, mustard and 1¾ cups of parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
4 Add pasta and bacon mixture to sauce. Stir to combine. Pour into a lightly greased 10-cup capacity ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with combined breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan.
5 Cook in a moderate oven (180C) for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
6 Serve garnished with dried bay leaves.
New Idea Food Director Barb Northwood says:Lovely and simple, this dish is real comfort food. I use full cream milk to make the sauce and grate my own parmesan for a taste sensation. For a vegetarian option, simply omit the bacon. This dish is easy enough for a family weeknight meal, or cook it in individual dishes and serve to friends.
Tip: Hot milk ensures a smooth, creamy sauce. If you prefer, use a whisk instead of a spoon. If sauce turns lumpy, push it through a sieve.
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