Gooey Skillet Mac & Cheese
At long last, fall temperatures have arrived in Texas. Which means I want to spend every minute of daylight, and then some, outdoors. So, it’s also the time of year that I work my grill as an oven so I can do just that. Whether I’m roasting a chicken, a skillet of vegetables, or a casserole, roasted foods in a closed grill (vented for smoking to maintain steady airflow) produces the best results of oven-roasting (browned, crispy textures created by ambient heat) plus the distinct flavor of a charcoal fire. Enter Gooey Mac & Cheese, my favorite recipe for the ultimate comfort dinner.
Gooey Mac & Cheese With Cheesy Bread Crumbs
Cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan or Pecorino create a particularly creamy, flavorful base, but feel free to swap in your favorite varieties (Gruyere, Fontina, or goat cheese are also delicious in the mix).
A crunchy layer of cheesy breadcrumbs and a dash Shake Tasty seasoning make this dish truly satisfying; keep it on recipe speed dial throughout autumn.
1 pound tubular pasta (such as elbows, rigatone, penne)
1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon Dijon or Creole mustard
2 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Crystal)
1 tablespoon Shake Tasty seasoning, plus more for garnish
Prepare your grill for two zone cooking and build a medium-high fire.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of generously salted water until it’s just barely al dente (it will finish cooking in the grill). Drain and set aside.
Combine the Panko or breadcrumbs, ¼ cup Parmesan, olive oil, and scallions in a bowl and use your fingers to combine.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan (big enough to hold the cooked pasta) over medium heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, whisk in the flour and continue whisking until the mixture turns golden and begins to smell nutty, about 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk, and continue to cook, whisking, until the mixture is smooth. Turn off the heat and whisk in the Cheddar, mozzarella, half the Parmesan, and the mustard, hot sauce, and Shake Tasty.
When the cheese is melted, pour in the pasta and stir until the noodles are completely coated. Transfer the pasta to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and top with the breadcrumbs.
When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, place the skillet over indirect heat, close the grill and vent the grill for smoking. Cook the macaroni and cheese until the cheese is bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.
To ensure an evenly browned crust, rotate the skillet a couple times over the heat.