Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese

The comfort food everyone dreams about.

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
30 mins
Bake Time:
30 mins
Cool Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Servings:
8

Would we be too bold if we declared this Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese the comfort food everyone dreams about? Or maybe a two-for-one Southern special. It's punchy (thanks, barbecue sauce). It's creamy (thanks, copious amounts of Cheddar and Colby Jack). It's packed with tender, shredded smoked pork and all the right spices that make mac and cheese, well, mac and cheese. The buttery panko breadcrumb topping provides a nice, decadent crunchy contrast, and the Dijon mustard and extra-sharp Cheddar add a needed tang that balances out the richness of the dish. Instead of mixing barbecue sauce into the pasta, we opted for a little drizzle at the end, but do as you please. Just choose a good sauce—a mediocre one will produce lackluster results. We recommend Bishop's from Piggly Wiggly or running over to to your local barbecue joint. If planning ahead, you can definitely make the sauce beforehand. Just toss in your cooked pasta before baking. We can only promise that this is going to be the guaranteed crowd favorite at the next potluck, picnic, tailgate, and family gathering. Who could possibly resist? Serve with something green to balance the richness and don't forget the cold beers.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 pound uncooked large elbow pasta

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped sweet onion (about 1 medium onion)

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • 3 ½ cups whole milk

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 8 ounces Colby-Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 2 ½ cups shredded smoked pork (sauceless)

  • 1 cup panko

  • ¼ cup sliced scallions (about 2 medium scallions)

  • Barbecue sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray; place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and set aside. Fill a large pot with salted water, and bring to a boil over high. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain.

  2. While pasta cooks, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour; cook, stirring constantly, until onion is coated in flour, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, mustard, garlic powder, and black pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in Cheddar and Colby-Jack cheeses in ¾-cup increments until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.

  3. Stir pork and drained pasta into cheese mixture in saucepan. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Microwave remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small microwavable bowl on HIGH until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in panko until combined. Sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture in baking dish.

  4. Bake in preheated oven until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions. Spoon evenly onto serving plates; drizzle with barbecue sauce, and serve.

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