Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese

Dinner Pasta

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese is hearty and delicious. You don’t need to make a cheese sauce, so it comes together easily. And the addition of dried thyme makes it smell amazing.

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

It seems like everyone is on a special diet these days. Food allergies are practically an epidemic. Also, there’s the usual rash of restrictive fad diets. Veganism is spreading like wild fire. Of course, the irony is not lost on me that veganism might be a great way to decrease the chances of wild fires. But I’m not there yet.

Sadly, science still hasn’t come around to the diet of my dreams. If only we could all save the world and lose weight by being carbetarians. All carbs all the time. With a little cheese thrown in from time to time for good measure. I mean, you can eat other stuff, too. I’m not trying to deprive you. You just don’t ever have to feel guilty about about eating potatoes and pasta in the same dish. A girl can dream, right?

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese would loom large in the diet of a carbetarian. This hearty pasta dish features crispy pancetta, nutty gruyere, and a good hit of thyme to make the whole thing sing. You won’t want to stop eating this.

We’re keeping the clean up to a minimum by cooking the potatoes and the pasta in the same pot. Next, we’ll crisp up the pancetta in the same oven-proof skillet we’ll bake the whole dish in later. Finally, mix the cheese, cream, and other ingredients into your drained pasta, then put it back in the skillet to bake. Keep it simple. Keep it delicious.

Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

There’s no shortage of things to feel guilty about these days. May I suggest you make and eat this Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese with nothing but joy and pleasure. No guilt necessary.

Potato u0026amp; Pancetta Mac u0026amp; Cheese


6 servings

Prep time

30 minutes

Cooking time

20 minutes


  • 1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 pound penne pasta

  • 2 teaspoons garlic oil

  • 8 ounces cubed pancetta

  • 3 green onions, sliced

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 7 tablespoons vermouth or dry white wine

  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream

  • Pinch of ground nutmeg

  • 2 cups grated gruyere cheese


  • Preheat your oven to 425 F (220 C).
  • Fill a large pot with water for your potatoes and pasta. Add your potato cubes and salt while the water is still cold, then put the pot over high heat to bring it to the boil. Keep an eye on it. Once it starts to boil, let the potatoes cook for about five minutes before adding in the pasta. Cook your pasta with the potatoes a minute or two less than it says on the package to make sure it’s al dente.
  • While your carbs are cooking, add the garlic oil to an ovenproof skillet that you can bake your mac and cheese in later. Heat your oil over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook this for about five minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Next, add the white parts of your sliced green onions and the dried thyme to the skillet. Continue stirring frequently, cooking this all together for another five minutes until the pancetta starts to crisp up. Take if off the heat until your pasta is nearly ready if you need to.
  • When you’re about 3-5 minutes from draining your pasta, crank the heat up under your skillet and add the vermouth or white wine. Let it bubble away until it’s reduced by about half, then add the cream, and a bit of nutmeg. Give it a good stir, then remove from the heat.
  • When your potatoes and pasta are properly cooked, lower a measuring cup or a mug into the water to reserve about half a cup of it before draining your pasta and potatoes. Then put all this back in the same pot, off the heat.
  • Pour your cream mixture over your carbs and give them a good stir to combine. Add some of your pasta water if you need to. The sauce should be quite runny at this stage. The pasta will soak up some of the liquid as it bakes.
  • Next, stir in about half your grated cheese. Keep stirring in the cheese until you have just a handful left.
  • Once all your ingredients are well-combined, transfer everything back to your skillet, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese starts to turn golden on top.
  • Let your mac and cheese cool for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the green tops of your green onions over the top before serving. Spoon it up, and dig in.

Recipe adapted from Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration by Nigella Lawson.

Finally, if you like this recipe, you might also love this Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. It’s awesome!

5 thoughts on “Potato & Pancetta Mac & Cheese”

  1. This was delicious! I had to make modifications with what I had on hand. I used cavatappi instead of penne, and prosciutto instead of pancetta, and it turned out really well still. I also don’t have an oven-safe skillet, so I juet put it in a foil baking pan before the oven. Great flavor!

    1. I’m so glad you like it, Steph. Those modifications sound excellent. I definitely believe you should work with what you’ve got.

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