Mac and Cheese, Smoky Four-Cheese Version
This is a different version of the original Mac & Cheese recipe on the Cooking Dude website. It is slightly more work, but, according to my taste testers, is well worth the extra effort!
John McLemore’s Mac and Cheese recipe in his “Dadgum That’s Good” smoker recipe book was the best I ever tasted, either with or without a smoker to finish it in. I’ve made some Cooking Dude improvements in the recipe, and for the last few years it has been an expected and anticipated part of all our family gatherings. It’s time to tell others!
Yesterday I used my new Instant Pot to help, which saved time both in preparation and in clean-up later.
If you don’t have a smoker, just bake the dish in your oven at 250 degrees for an hour.
You can save a lot of work if you purchase the cheese already shredded. However, you probably can’t find shredded Smoked Gouda, so expect to shred that yourself.
1 lb. large elbow macaroni
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) tub of regular Philadelphia cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
8 ounces shredded Smoked Gouda cheese (save half for topping)
8 ounces shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese (save half for topping)
Smoked paprika for garnish
9” x 12” glass or metal pan, 2 inches deep
Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees or your smoker to 225 degrees.
Cooking the Pasta
Put the ingredients for the pasta into either a sauce pan or the Instant Pot. Stir and cook.
For the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for four minutes, release pressure, and stir to separate the noodles from each other. Leave in pot with lid on to keep warm.
For conventional cooking, bring to a boil and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, drain the noodles in a colander and return to pan to keep warm.
Cooking the Sauce
Melt the butter in a sauce pan, and when melted add the flour. Stir to dissolve the flour, and cook for two or three minutes. (For a light sauce like this, we want the aroma of the cooked flour but we don’t want the mixture (roux) to brown like we would for a gravy or other dark sauce.)
Add the milk in stages, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens. When all the milk has been added, bring the sauce to a boil. After a few minutes, it will become thick and bubbly.
Add the cream cheese broken up into spoon-sized chunks to make it melt faster. Use a wire whisk to break it up, smooth it out, and then add the rest of the seasonings. Now the sauce will taste so good that you will want to sample if often to make sure it really is that good!
Assembling the Dish
Now the sauce is in its pan keeping warm and the pasta is either in its pan or in the Instant Pot.
If you are using the Instant Pot, add the Parmesan cheese and half the shredded Smoked Gouda and Sharp cheddar.
Stir, and add the contents of the sauce pan. Using one or two long-handled spoons, mix thoroughly right in the Instant Pot.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, use a large bowl, and add the ingredients as above. Stir to mix.
Either way, spray the 9 x 12 pan or dish with cooking spray and dump the Mac & Cheese mixture into it. Then sprinkle the mixture of the shredded Smoked Gouda and Sharp Cheddar over the top. Sprinkle lightly with the Smoked Paprika.
Baking or Smoking the Dish
Bake or smoke the dish for 45 to 60 minutes to heat through and brown the top slightly. Everything in the dish is already cooked, so this is just to melt the cheese, meld the flavors, and add visual appeal to the final product.
Serve and enjoy, refrigerating the leftovers, which are good hot or cold!