Friday, January 22, 2010

Barbecue Smoked Cheddar Mac

I absolutely LOVE smoked cheddar! I don't usually buy it because it's about twice the price of regular cheddar and Ben's lactose intolerant (even though he loves it too)! The last time we had it was a splurge. We were on our way apple picking last fall and stopped at Gossners Cheese Factory. We always load up when we go there. I think we came out with two grocery bags full of feta, pepper jack, cheese curd (or turd as Ben calls it), mozzarella, swiss, smoked cheddar and more I'm sure.

When I came across this recipe a few weeks ago, I couldn't wait to try it. I knew I already had some leftover Cafe Rio Pork in the freezer that it would go great with. All I had to do was find some smoked cheddar. This dish turned out to be amazing! I love the combination of the sweet and spicy of the pork with the smokey, creaminess of the cheese sauce. I halved the original recipe to suit our family, but feel free to double it for yours. I served it with a side of coleslaw and some peas.

1/2 lb mini farfalle pasta (or whatever pasta you choose)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 cups milk (I used whole)
2 1/2 cups, plus 1 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese, divided (about 8-10 oz.)
1-2 cups Cafe Rio Sweet and Spicy Shredded Pork

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook for 1 minute stirring. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Increase heat to medium high, stir continuously until liquid thickens and comes to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in 2 1/2 cups cheese until smooth. Add salt and pepper. Mix the sauce and the pasta then pour into a large baking dish. Top with shredded pork and remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

4 Servings
Calories per serving:590

SOURCE:Adapted from Picky Palate

NOTES:I use whole milk when I make mac n' cheese dishes because it makes it extra creamy. If you're worried about the calories, whole milk doesn't have that many more calories than 2% milk. The calories mostly come from the cheese and pasta, that's why I don't skimp on the milk. You can find low-fat cheeses, but I've never seen low-fat smoked cheddar before. The way I get around eating foods like this is to use portion control; I usually give myself about a 1 cup serving and then load up on the veggies.

When I make my Cafe Rio Pork, I portion out what we don't eat after a couple of days and freeze it in 1 1/2-2 cup servings. This is the perfect amount for a quick weeknight meal, whatever you choose to use it for.

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