Smoked Mac and Cheese
Howdy folks, and thanks for stopping by the website! For today’s recipe, I’ve got both the Bertha grill and the Roughneck smoker fired up. No worries, you can make this recipe on any grill or smoker you have at home. This recipe has two elements that we will smoke before we use them to make the best macaroni & cheese you’ve ever eaten in your life: breakfast sausage and three cheeses.
Start a Day Ahead for Smokier Mac & Cheese
The three cheeses used in this recipe are mozzarella, cheddar, and cream cheese. You can use sharp or mild cheddar – whatever you and your family prefer. In order to smoke the cheese without it melting, we need to put the cheeses in the freezer. The mozzarella and cheddar cheeses need to freeze for about 25 minutes and the cream cheese about 45 minutes before we start it smoking. We want them colder than normal so they can sit in a low-temp smoker long enough to get a bold smoky flavor.
Tip: For a little kick, substitute 1/3 of the cheddar cheese with pepper jack or any hot pepper cheese. I wouldn’t turn you away if you added a little jalapeno, either.
Get yourself a disposable aluminum casserole dish about the length of a wire rack, or use any fireproof casserole dish that you have laying around. Fill the dish up with thick ice cubes. Place the wire rack over the top of it, and place the cheeses on right before you put them in the smoker. The smoker needs to be just around 250 – 275 degrees.
Trick: Cheese is soft, so it absorbs the smoke flavor faster than other foods.
What Type of Wood Should You Use for Smoking Cheese?
I use FOGO Hardwood Lump Charcoal in Oak, a chunk of cherry and a little apple. Keep the hot coals pushed all the way to the other side of the grill or smoker from where you’ve got the dish of ice and cheese. We want the smoke to get into the cheese without melting it.
How Long Should You Smoke the Cheese?
Smoke the cheddar and mozzarella for about 45 minutes, as long as you can keep the temperature down. If it’s windy like it usually is in Oklahoma, you may want to try to block the wind or use one of the heat deflectors some grills (like Bertha!) come with to keep the temperature low. You can also continue to add ice to the casserole dish to help prevent premature melting.
Tip: For a more robust smoked cheese flavor, after smoking allow the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses cool to room temperature. Wrap in plastic and place in the icebox overnight or up to 24 hours.
When the cream cheese begins to melt, because it will – then it’s time to remove it from the smoker. Keep the cheddar and mozzarella on the smoker until it starts to melt – they have a higher melting point so you can store the cream cheese in the ice box until the others are ready to come out of the smoker and play.
Tip: This low temperature smoke will be very hard to achieve when the outdoor temperatures are above 80 degrees. Find some shade and keep out of the wind.
Smoked Breakfast Sausage
Take your favorite pork breakfast sausage – I prefer T.C. Potters and Shannon prefers Jimmy Dean. Remove the packaging and season all over with some of our Original Seasoning all over it and place that roll of sausage right on the grill. Put some Fogo Hardwood Lump charcoal and about three chunks of cherry or apple wood with it. Keep the temperature around 275-280 for 35 – 40 minutes to infuse some good smoke flavor.
If you are in the market for a new smoker or a new grill, we’ve collaborated with Hasty Bake in Oklahoma to make these 100% in the United States by American workers with all of the design features I always wished I could find. These are made to last a lifetime.
Smoked Macaroni & Cheese
Well, folks – we have smoked the sausage and we have smoked the cheese. I think y’all have a good idea what comes next. Cook up your pasta until it’s al dente.
Tip: Use shell-shaped pasta instead of elbow macaroni. It just holds the cheese a little better and tastes cheesier.
In a stock pot, put the diced cheddar and mozzarella, stirring continually. When they begin to melt, go ahead and add in all of that delicious cream cheese. Add some half and half after the cheese is melted to achieve desired consistency.
Tip: Cheese will scorch if you don’t constantly stir, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan.
The pork sausage was smoked until an internal temperature of around 165 and is thus fully cooked, so dice or crumble the sausage and stir into the melted cheese. Add the pasta, and then it’s time to dig in.
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Smoked Macaroni and Cheese - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 lb. ground pork breakfast sausage
- 1 tablespoon Kent’s Original seasoning or your favorite all-purpose seasoning
- 16 ounces half and half
- 1 16 ounce package pasta shells or macaroni
- ½ stick unsalted butter melted
- Place the cheeses in the freezer. Freeze the cheddar and mozzarella for about 25 minutes and the cream cheese for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, clean and preheat a smoker to 275 degrees F.
Place the sausage in the middle of the smoker and season lightly on all sides with the Original Seasoning. Shut the lid and to the firebox, add 2 to 3 chunks of cherry or apple wood. Smoke for about 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. F, turning occasionally.
- Remove the sausage from the smoker and set aside. Reduce the heat to 120 degrees F. Move all the heat to one side of the grill.
- Remove the cheese from the freezer and place on a wire rack. Fill a foil pan or baking pan with ice. Place the cheeses and wire rack over the ice. Place the pan on the smoker on the indirect side of the heat. Shut the lid and add a couple chunks of cherry and/or apple wood to the fire box.
Smoke the cheeses for about 10 minutes. When the cream cheese begins to brown lightly around the edges, remove from the smoker. Be careful not to smoke the cream cheese too long to where it begins to melt. Remove the cream cheese and set in the refrigerator. Continue smoking the other cheeses about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Be sure to monitor the heat so the cheese doesn’t melt while smoking. If the pan gets hot, reduce your fire and add more ice.
- Remove the cheeses from the smoker and cut into chunks. Add to a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the cheese begins to melt, stir in the cream cheese. Continue stirring until smooth. Stir in the half and half and cook until the cheese is smooth and warmed through, stirring constantly.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse the pasta and return to the original pot. Stir in the butter.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until the pasta is coated well. Serve immediately.
Tip: For a more robust smoked cheese flavor, after smoking allow the cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses cool to room temperature. Wrap in plastic and place in the icebox overnight or up to 3 days for maximum smoke flavor.