Baby Back Mac and Cheese
Home-style macaroni and cheese should be rich and thick and gooey, and oven-baked so that it holds together. I’m not messing around with the stovetop version; I’m talking about a huge casserole that can feed a crowd and keep it filled up. Now there are plenty of versions of mac and cheese that add tasty bits of bacon, which is a nice little touch. But I don’t take any half steps. My version calls for smoky, juicy baby back rib meat that doesn’t melt into the background. It stands up to the macaroni and cheese and carries this all-time favorite to new heights. Just ask anyone who’s had it at my Pride and Joy Bar B Que spots.
- 4 Tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Pound elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 cup milk
- 2.5 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Pound leftover baby back rib meat (leftover pulled pork, brisket, or pulled chicken would work too)
- Generously butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan on the bottom and sides with 2 tablespoons of the butter.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook to al dente according to the package directions.
- Once you drop the pasta into the water, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until the butter and flour form a paste that is beginning to slightly brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring the mixture up to a bubble to thicken. Remove the pot from the heat, whisk in 2 cups of the shredded cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Add the cheese sauce and stir in the leftover rib meat. Pour the baby back mac into the prepared baking pan and scatter the top with the remaining ½ cup cheese. Put it in the broiler and broil until the cheese is golden brown on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the broiler and let stand, covered with foil, for 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 4 for a main course or 8 for a side dish