Triple Smoked Mac and Cheese with Parmesan-Pancetta Breadcrumbs

Serves 6 to 8

 

1 pound rigatoni (or other small tube-shaped pasta: elbow, shells, cavatappi, farfalle, etc.)

Kosher salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup all-purpose flour (GF: use GF all-purpose flour – not a nut flour)

4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon turmeric (if you want it to be bright yellow)

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

12 ounces smoked Gouda, grated

¼ cup Parmesan, grated

 

Breadcrumbs

 

4 ounces pancetta (or bacon, finely chopped)

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup Parmesan, grated

 

Cook 1 pound pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water (at least 3 tablespoons!) until it’s al dente. Drain and set aside.

 

Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in an ovenproof pot (such as a Dutch oven!) over medium heat. Whisk in ¼ cup flour and cook until the mixture is foamy and light brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in 4 cups milk to avoid clumping. 

 

Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric (if using), ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and whisk constantly until it reaches a simmer over medium heat.

 

Reduce to low heat and whisk in all of the grated cheese a handful at a time until melted. Taste, and adjust seasonings to fit your preferences! Remove pot from heat. 

 

Stir in the cooked pasta until it’s completely coated. It will look like way too much sauce… don’t worry, it’s not!

 

In a nonstick skillet, cook 4 ounces pancetta over medium-high heat until lightly crispy. Stir in 1 cup breadcrumbs and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove skillet from heat, allow to cool for a couple minutes, then stir in ¼ cup Parmesan and a pinch of pepper. 

 

Preheat your USSC Grill to 225°F, preferably using hickory wood pellets.

 

Scatter the breadcrumbs over the mac and cheese. Place the pot of mac and cheese on a rimmed baking sheet in case it bubbles over. Smoke for 2 hours. 

 

Enjoy!

 

Notes:

 

  • Make it ahead! Let the mac and cheese cool completely after you put the breadcrumbs on top, then cover and refrigerate for up to 72 hours. Smoke for the same amount of time.