grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling over the top
3/4cupcoarsely chopped chanterelle mushrooms
fresh chives to garnish
Cook the 3 cups of pasta shells until they are just firm, one step past al dente, but not overcooked. When you are baking pasta in the oven you want to give yourself some cooking leeway, otherwise they will end up a mushy mess. A tasty one, but texture wise it won't be that appetizing.
Once the shells are cooked, drain the water and place the pasta into the baking dish.
Chop your bacon up into small pieces and fry up quickly to your desired texture. I prefer my bacon about half-cooked when it's going into another dish, nothing is worse than chewy raw-hide textured bacon in a smooth, creamy pasta dish. I cook it until most of the fat is gone but it's still soft. Once that is done, drain the fat and set it aside.
Take your chanterelle mushrooms, chop them up coarsely and fry them in a small amount of butter over medium-low heat in a frying pan until most of their water content has been shed. Set aside.
Time to make your cheese sauce, which is the base of any white sauce out there, your basic roux. Start with your butter in a pot, and heat it till its melted.
Mix in the flour until it's a gluey mixture. Doesn't that sound yummy! The secret to a white sauce is patience.
Start by adding in a tiny amount of the milk. Mix it in thoroughly. Add in the rest of the milk, little by little, stirring to avoid lumps from forming.
Once you have the milk all added, with no flour lumps we hope, add in the cream.
Heat the mixture, stirring to avoid scorching the milk and add in your cheese. Let the mixture thicken up and the cheese melt.
Add in your salt and pepper.
Toss the bacon and chanterelles into the cheese sauce, combine then pour over the pasta shells in your baking dish. Stir to cover the pasta completely then place the lid on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until the pasta is heated all the way through and the cheese sauce baked.
Garnish with your freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chives.