Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Make macaroni and cheese a standalone meal


Special to the Sun Herald

It is not hard to make macaroni and cheese a main dish.
It is not hard to make macaroni and cheese a main dish.

Macaroni and cheese has got to be near the top of most people's list of comfort food side dishes.

Yes, all week we have been focusing this blog on delicious side dishes that could easily step into the spotlight and become the main event.

Macaroni and cheese fits that bill. There are dozens of good recipes out there, but let's think about several ways you might step up macaroni and cheese to become an entree. 

First is to think of it as a casserole, not a pasta side dish. To that effect let’s fortify the recipe with a good dose of protein. Chopped and browned smoked sausage comes to mind first, not an overpowering amount, but just enough to give it that edge. Maybe even a little barbecue, whether it is pulled pork, brisket or ribs.

Second is to look closely at the cheese you are using. Most really good cooks use at least two, such as Gruyere, the best melting cheese in the world and a good, artisan-made cheddar. But there is just some magic of texture in Velveeta. If you are a food snob don’t tell anyone, but add a little to your recipe, and it will be so smooth and creamy.

The real bomb, allowing that you do use a good recipe to start with, is to smoke your macaroni and cheese on a wood-fired smoker. Yep, that is all the rage in the professional barbeque circles, and it is unbelievably good. Just make your recipe, pre-bake it three-quarters of the way through, then put it in the smoker until the top has a nice brown crust. Try it; it's going to change your macaroni and cheese world forever.