· Food For Thought
Recipe of The Month: Pulled Pork Mac 'n' Cheese
At long last, pulled pork and macaroni and cheese have come together to create the most beautiful, delicious baby in the whole world. Yep, it’s Pulled Pork Mac ‘n’ Cheese time, and though the recipe seems long, it’s actually really easy and well worth the pay-off.
FOR THE PULLED PORK
1 4(ish)-pound pork shoulder or Boston butt (haha… you said “butt”)
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons coarse or flaked salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
FOR THE MAC
1 1-pound (453g) box of pasta of your choice
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ 8oz block of cream cheese
1 1/3 cup extra sharp cheddar
½ cup mozzarella
STEP 1: Assemble your ingredients and make sure you’ve got everything you need. The night before you plan to make the mac ‘n’ cheese, you’ll be prepping the pork – so like, now would be the time to get on it, okay?
STEP 2: Take the pork out of the fridge and cut off any giant slabs of fat; set the meat aside. Now, make the rub by combining the paprika, salt, sugar, garlic powder, dry mustard, and pepper.
STEP 3: Place the pork on a large plate and pour half of the seasoning over it. Rub it in real good. Get in there. Get in all those nooks and crannies. Now flip the meat and pour the remaining seasoning over it. Rub it all in.
STEP 4: Transfer the seasoned meat to a large freezer bag and pour in any leftover seasoning. Zip it up and refrigerate overnight.
STEP 5: Good morning! Start your day as everyone should: by soaking a couple cups of wood chips in warm water for half an hour. Take your meat out of the fridge while the wood is soaking, and build yourself a little tray out of aluminum foil for the wood chips to hang out in. Alternately, use a smoker basket or metal tray. It really depends on how crafty you’re feeling.
STEP 6: Once the chips are soaked, go preheat your grill. Heat one side on high (place the wood chips on that side), and heat to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit; at this point, your wood chips will be smoking a bit.
STEP 7: Reduce heat to low-medium, and when the temperature in the grill gets to 250ish degrees Fahrenheit, place the meat on the opposite side of the grill so it can cook with indirect heat.
STEP 8: Once the meat is on the grill, KEEP IT CLOSED. No peeking, buddy. Only open it one time per hour, just to check on the wood chips (do they need refreshing? If so, add some nice, freshly soaked ones!). While you can’t peek, do keep an eye on the temperature. It needs to remain around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, so make any adjustments as needed. After 2 hours, flip your meat. Flip it good.
STEP 9: After 5 hours, remove the meat from the grill and wrap it up in a few layers of heavy-duty foil. Return it to the grill and turn the heat on its lowest setting on the side it was cooking on before. Keep the other burner on as well but increase the temperature so it hovers around 300.
STEP 10: Cook the meat for one more hour, and then check the temperature. If it’s around 195 degrees Fahrenheit, great! Remove it from the grill but wrap it up again in its foil to let it rest. It’s had a big day.
STEP 11: On to the mac ‘n’ cheese! Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While that’s heating up, melt the butter in a small/medium pot over medium heat. Whisk the flour in, and then add the milk, pepper, garlic powder, and cream cheese. Whisk until smooth and reduce temperature to low.
STEP 12: Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente (according to the instructions on the box).
STEP 13: When the pasta is almost done, add the grated cheeses to the sauce pot and whisk just until melted and incorporated.
STEP 14: Before draining the pasta, reserve about a half cup of the cooking water and set aside. Now you may drain the pasta and return it to the pot. We’ll allow it.
STEP 15: Now, while wearing a bib (it may be necessary to avoid drool leakage into mac ‘n’ cheese), pour the cheese sauce into the drained pasta. Stir it up, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if necessary, so each little morsel of pasta is coated evenly in cheesy goodness.
STEP 16: Uncover the pork and use two forks to shred it. At this point, feel free to snack on the pork… you know, for quality control purchases.
STEP 17: Add the pulled pork to the mac. Stir it up.
STEP 18: If you’re a creamy mac ‘n’ cheese kind of person, eat it as is! I mean, look at it. Look how good that looks. Bet you’re glad you’ve got that bib now, eh?
STEP 19: If you’re more of a crispy top mac ‘n’ cheese person, transfer the mac to a large greased baking dish. Spread it out, then top with bread crumbs and some more grated cheese. Throw it under the broiler for a few minutes, or until the crumbs and cheese are a beautiful golden-brown colour. Enjoy, friends.