Super creamy and rich macaroni is cooked in a cheesy béchamel sauce and sprinkled with bacon. This dish gets extra smoky flavor by finishing cooking on your grill or smoker. It makes a perfect side dish to BBQ meat, or serve it on its own as the main course.
It is a robust recipe that can absorb changes such as the type of cheese and style of pasta. As such different varieties of cheddar cheese can be used including smoked cheddar. Rotini, penne, farfallem and shell pasta all become options.
The mac and cheese can be cooked in the barbecue while the main meat is resting, meaning it smoothly fits into any big meal cooking schedule with ease.
Smoked Mac ‘N’ Cheese Recipe
- 1/2 pound bacon chopped
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- salt and black pepper
- 3 cups grated aged cheddar cheese
- 2 pounds macaroni or your favourite small curly pasta
- 2 cups grated pepper Jack cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- smoker or grill
- Line a plate with paper towels. Place the bacon in a sauté pan, and cook on medium-low heat until crisp but not overcooked. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon bits to the plate to drain. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of bacon fat into a clean sauté pan, and reserve the rest for another use.
- Heat the bacon fat over medium heat. Add the butter and onions, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft but not brown. Add the garlic and stir until it releases its flavor. Add the flour, stirring the mixture until it comes together. Cook the roux for a couple of minutes so your mac ’n’ cheese does not taste like raw flour.
- Slowly add the milk to the roux, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition so there are no chunks of flour and the mixture is creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the liquid is warm, mix in the cheddar cheese. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to package directions, slightly undercooking so it will absorb some of the cheese sauce and make the dish extra tasty. Drain the pasta and mix it into the cheese sauce. Stir well.
- Prepare your smoker or your grill for smoking, to medium heat.
- Pour half of the mac ’n’ cheese into a large baking dish. Smother it with half of the Pepper Jack cheese, and then cover it with the remaining mac ’n’ cheese. Top with the remaining Pepper Jack cheese, Parmesan, and bacon bits.
- Smoke on the indirect side of your grill with the lid closed for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and the top is slightly browned.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before serving, if you can make it that long! Serve this dish family-style from the baking dish.