This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.
He did have one final clue, however. He remembered that the recipe was from Totie Fields.
Yep, that Totie Fields. That clue plus a quick internet search made it possible for me to get some sleep, because after Googling various combinations of “Totie Fields” and “macaroni,” “cheese,” “bacon” and “tomato” turned up something called “Totie Fields Luncheon Dish”. It called for macaroni, cheddar cheese soup, milk, stewed tomatoes, raw bacon and potato chips all mixed up and baked. (That was pretty much the extent of the directions.) I printed it out and handed it to Dennis, who had a joyous reunion with the recipe. I decided to take some liberties with it, because while I wholeheartedly support cheddar cheese soup under the right circumstances, I couldn’t quite go through with the stewed tomato and raw bacon part. Tomatoes and bacon yes. Stewed and raw…nope.
So I subbed in some sliced fresh cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of cooked bacon (the original recipe didn’t specify an amount of bacon, which made me love it even more), stirred the whole thing up and popped it in the oven.
And you know what? It was pretty dang good. Creamy, with a hit of salty bacon flavor, sweet tomato taste and a little crunch on top from the potato chips. And the moral of the story is, you truly never know where your next great mac and cheese is coming from. Sometimes it just takes a while to arrive!
Adapted from a recipe attributed to Totie Fields