Level up your comfort food up with our smoked mac-and-cheese recipe
For years, my relationship with this simple hearty dish was limited to that unnamed boxed food product featuring the day glow orange “cheese” powder. It wasn’t until I tasted the real stuff that my love affair with mac-and-cheese truly began. Perfectly cooked pasta was bathed in a blend of creamy sharp cheddar and Colby cheeses and topped with crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs.
In my mind there was nothing that could make this main course or side dish more perfect…that is, until it hit the grill. Baked over live fire with just the right amount of smoke, the end result is a smoked mac-and-cheese that you’ll dream of for days to come.
While you could take this recipe one step further by blending in pulled pork, brisket, grilled lobster, or other meats or fish prior to baking, I think you’ll find that it stands up just fine on its own! In fact, the first time I served it, my vegetarian (aaargh!) daughter was convinced that I had packed it full of bacon due to its subtle BBQ smokiness.
Serve with: Pale ale.
Mac And Cheese
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
- 2 cups grated Colby cheese
- 1 teaspoon Morton coarse kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley (optional)
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Boil the mac. Cook the elbow macaroni according to instructions, preferably al dente (tender but firm).
- Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly until fully incorporated.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese, salt, and pepper to the saucepan. Continue to stir the mixture until the cheese has melted. Add the cooked pasta to the saucepan and stir until the pasta is completely coated with the cheese sauce. Remove from the heat.
- Prep the topping. In a small bowl, toss the Panko breadcrumbs with the melted butter.
- Assemble. Coat the inside of a 3-quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the mac-and-cheese into the casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Top the mac-and-cheese with the Panko breadcrumbs.
- Fire up. Prepare a grill for direct cooking by evenly spreading a chimney full of pre-heated charcoal briquets across the grill’s charcoal grate. Add 2 to 3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. Adjust the grill vents to bring the temperature to about 350°F. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs to maintain a temperature of approximately 350°F. Add wood to the gas grill according to our recommendations here.
- Cook. Set the casserole dish in the center of the grill’s main cooking grate. Cover the grill.
- Allow the mac-and-cheese to smoke until bubbly and golden brown, approximately 40 minutes.
- Serve. Remove the smoked mac-and-cheese from the grill. Garnish with chopped parsley (optional) and serve immediately.