Last year, a restaurant dedicated solely to macaroni and cheese opened nearby. Shawn and I had heard about it months in advance and were so excited to try it.
Once it opened, we were almost instantly there with the kids. The premise is genius — take a classic comfort food and make it a bunch of different ways. Serve it in skillets. The restaurant has really taken off and is even expanding into a larger space.
Pretty awesome, right?
Well, eating there has made me rethink mac and cheese. I’ve always been of the creamy cheddar mac and cheese persuasion. But it can be so much more — you can change up the cheeses, do more than one, add toppings, mix-ins and drizzles. And you can bake it (or not). There is so much room for adaptation with basic macaroni and cheese.
This one? I was mulling over it after having a pulled pork macaroni and cheese at that mac and cheese place. So when the Wisconsin Cheese Board contacted me about participating in their annual 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese, I immediately sent this idea over. They loved it as much as I did. Head over there to read my blog post on my mac and cheese philosophy.
Then come back, so you can read a little more about this plate of heaven. It’s okay … I’ll wait.
Now, about this recipe … It’s like a BBQ joint on high.
The silky cheese sauce is laced with a familiar smokiness usually reserved for fall-off-the-bone-tender treats from the smoker. You can thank the Apple Smoked Wisconsin Cheddar and the smoky brisket on top (I used leftover Smoky Slow Cooker Beef Brisket). But it doesn’t stop there … it’s drizzled with sweet honey barbecue sauce and sprinkled with sharp Wisconsin blue cheese.
When you dig in with your fork, you have to stab a bit of the creamy macaroni and a piece of the brisket — preferably one that is laced with barbecue and blue cheese. It’s a total explosion of flavor … kind of like when they shoot off all the confetti at the end of the Super Bowl. (Psst – This would be perfect to make for Super Bowl Sunday.) If you like mac and cheese and brisket, you will adore this. Swear.
Be sure to check out all the mac and cheese posts at 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese. Heaven!
- 1 lb macaroni
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 8 oz freshly grated Wisconsin Apple Smoked Cheddar Cheese
- kosher salt, to taste
- 2 cups leftover beef brisket
- 1/4 cup honey barbecue sauce
- 4 oz crumbled Wisconsin blue cheese
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions.
- While the macaroni is cooking, heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Whisk in the flour and cook until the mixture is smooth and liquid-y. Whisk in the milk and ground mustard. Cook, whisking occasionally, until well combined and hot.
- Whisk in the Apple Smoked Cheddar Cheese until smooth (if necessary, raise the heat on the burner a little to aid the cheese in melting). Taste and season as needed with salt.
- Combine the cooked macaroni and the cheese sauce and pour into an ungreased 9×13-inch glass baking pan. Smooth into one layer.
- Spread the brisket over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Drizzle with barbecue sauce and sprinkle all over with blue cheese.
- Set the broiler to high. Slide the macaroni and cheese into the oven placing it about four-inches from the element. Broil for 5-10 minutes until hot and bubbly. The blue cheese should start to lightly brown in places.
- Serve immediately.
Disclosure: I was compensated for the ingredients that went into developing this recipe. All opinions are my own.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.