Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hickory Smoked Mac & Cheese

I've been thinking a lot about Mac & Cheese lately. Far too much for any healthy human being. Finally, while in the grocery store yesterday I broke down and bought the necessary ingredients:

Mild Italian Sausage
Chipotle Hot Sauce
Balderson Heritage Cheddar, Aged 3 Years
Tre Stelle DELUXE Mozzerella
Lumaconi Noodles
Panko Breadcrumbs
Hickory Wood Chips

You may notice that I did not include any measurements. I don't usually measure anything while cooking unless I'm baking. Also, you may notice there aren't actually and macaroni noodles in this mac & cheese. I opted for lumaconi which is basically a giant shell. I wanted to add some left over sausage bits so I thought they might like to nestle up in the lumaconi beds. I bet now you would probably like to see some pictures of this delicious casserole and maybe learn how to make make it. So lets do that now...

Dice an onion and toss it in a sauce pan with a nice hunk of butter, about 1cm thick.

When it looks and smells delicious add your sausage - I used 4 sausages from a weekend BBQ, garlic - 3 big cloves, basil and oregano - I would have preferred fresh but I haven't had time to get my herb garden from Halifax to Truro yet, salt and pepper to taste - less salt as there is lots in the sausages. Save some sausage bits for later.

Throw in a splash (or eight) of Chipotle Hot Sauce - I used some stuff my Mom got me in Mexico but Super Store has some stuff that is pretty good. The shark sticker is a message to my room mates warning them to not use this hot sauce under any circumstances.

Next you are going to want to add some milk - about 2-3 cups depending on how many noodles you are cooking. Oh, I should mention, you should be boiling the noodles by now. After the milk is nice and warm add the shredded cheeses. I used about 200 grams of each. Depends on how cheesey you want it. The Balderson is pretty strong, but the Mozzarella calms it down a bit. Save some cheese and sausage bits for later.

Let this simmer for a bit while the noodles finish cooking. It should look like this:

Then drain the noodles. I like to wash them a bit too to get the starch off. Add the sauce and try not to eat it all. It's pretty good now but the smoke flavor really kicks it up a notch.

Remember those extra sausage bits and cheese scraps? Mix those in a bowl with hardy pile of bread crumbs or cracker crumbs or some combination. As long as it is crunchy. I used panko bread crumbs since that's what I had in the cupboard.

Ever so gently scoop the noodles and cheese into some kind of fire proof vessel. I used Dollarama foil pans for easy clean up. Fire and cheese do not make for an easy clean up job. Cover the casserole with the cheese, sausage, crumb mix and fire it onto the grill.

Hmm... The grill... I should probably talk about that since it is pretty important... To get a nice smoke flavor you are going to want to use a charcoal BBQ and some hickory wood chips. I like to throw the dry chips right on the hot coals and let them ignite.

Looks good, throw the casserole on and close the lid. This picture is pretty bad. I tried to doctor it up with some photo magic but it was useless. I hope to bet a better camera than my cell phone soon. Maybe for my birthday... *hint hint*

Now put the lid on leaving only the bottom vents open. This smothers the fire and fills the grill with smoke.

After 15 minutes or so I opened the lid a bit to let some oxygen in. This allows the coals to burn better. I was really surprised how toasty the top became. I thought I would have to broil it a bit but it turned out great.

The above photo really doesn't do this dish justice. The topping was really smokey and the innards were gooey with cheesy goodness. I ate a whole casserole for dinner. I'll definitely have to make this again.

I hope you enjoyed this first creation. I can't be sure when I the next idea will come out, but it will be soon as these guys aren't going to last long. So that's how you make delicious Mac & Cheese. Now here is a picture I drew of a cheese with a mustache.

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