SMOKED MACARONI & CHEESE BAKE
The degree of smokiness when smoking ingredients to add to a dish varies greatly. Macaroni & Cheese for example can be slightly smokey by simply adding cold smoked cheddar cheese or a stick of cold smoked butter. For a deep smoke flavor, all the cheeses, along with the butter can be cold smoked before combining into the cheese sauce that serves as the base of casserole.
When preparing ingredients for Smoked Macaroni & Cheese, it's a good opportunity to smoke more cheese than you need, saving it for a meat and cheese platter or even to freeze to use at a later date. The degree of smokiness when smoking dairy products like cheese, butter, and cream, depends on the time it is exposed to direct smoke. If you aren't sure what flavor of pellets to use, always start with the milder choices like Smokehouse Alder or Smokehouse Apple. Smoke time can vary from 15 minutes for a light smoke to an hour for a heavy smoke flavor. For best results, plan to seal cheese in a plastic wrap after smoking and refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving or adding to a recipe.
1 Pound elbow macaroni
1/2 Cup smoked* butter
1/2 Cup flour
2 Cups milk
2 Cups 1/2 & 1/2
4 Cups grated smoked* cheddar cheese
1 1/2 Cups grated smoked* gruyere cheese
1 1/2 Cups grated smoked* gouda cheese
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
1/2 Teaspoon paprika
1 Sleeve Ritz crackers or Club crackers (25-30)
2 Tablespoons chopped scallions or chives
* Smoke desired amount of cheeses and butter the day before you plan to make the Macaroni & Cheese. To smoke butter, remove paper wrap and place in a shallow dish.
To smoke cheeses, cut cheese about the size of a cube of butter and remove any wax rind.
This will allow more surface area for smoking and a conventional size for grating. Place butter and cheeses on a Smokehouse Drying Screen on top of a smoker rack.
Turn on Smoke Chief and shut the lid or door.
Smoke ingredients 15-60 minutes.
Grate smoked cheese.
Crush crackers and mix with scallions or chives, set aside. Cook macaroni according to package instructions, taking special care not to overcook. Drain macaroni and place in a large mixing bowl. Grease a large, 9" X 12", oven-proof casserole dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large saucepan, melt smoked butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk continuously until mixture begins to bubble. Slowly add milk, continuing to whisk until mixture begins to thicken, 4-5 minutes. Slowly add 1/2 & 1/2, continuing to whisk until mixture starts to bubble. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and paprika. Remove from heat and slowly fold in smoked cheeses, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or rubber scraper. Do not over-mix or whisk the cheese sauce. Stir cheese sauce into noodles and poor into casserole dish. Top with an even layer of crushed crackers and scallions/chives.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 30-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and cheese is bubbling in corners. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Top with additional herbs and smoked bacon bits if desired.
Recipe by: TIffany Haugen