This smoked mac and cheese is so gouda it will knock your socks off! Seriously, if you love gouda or mac and cheese, you’ll love this smoked gouda mac.
A Brazilian restaurant near me has the most delicious smoked gouda mac and cheese. It’s creamy, and tangy, and has just the right smokey flavor that makes you want to shovel it in mouthfuls. The only downside to this is that it’s $4 per serving, and I’ve burned my tongue on more than one occasion. Up until recently I’ve been content to have this delicious concoction seldom. However, when we put an offer in a new home in Nashville, I knew I had to figure out how to recreate this masterpiece.
Smoked Mac and Cheese (Smoked Gouda Mac)
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1 pound elbow macaroni (we sometimes use rigatoni)
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 pound smoked Gouda cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Before getting out any ingredients, you’ll need to warm that oven up to 375 degrees. Get out a cast iron dutch oven, your pasta pot, cheese grater, mixing spoons, measuring cup, and measuring spoons. If you don’t have a cast iron dutch oven, you can also opt for a large sauce pan and a 13×9 baking dish. If you’re using the baking dish, make sure to use the 1/2 teaspoon on butter to butter up the bottom and sides of the pan.
This decadent side dish doesn’t require much effort, will have to cook pasta. This is going to be your longest step, so make bringing 6 cups of water to a boil your priority. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and vegetable or olive oil to the water. While the water is boiling, get out your smoked gouda cheese and shred it including the darker outside (this is where the smoked comes into the smoked mac and cheese). The water should be at a boil now, so go ahead and throw that macaroni in the pot. Cook the pasta per the directions (usually 8-12 minutes) making sure to stir occasionally. Don’t feel obligated to make the pasta as tender as you usually liked it, as it will continue to cook in the oven. Once the pasta is to your liking, remove from the heat and drain and return to your pasta pot and set aside.
Now’s time to make the magic! — the bechamel sauce.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the dutch oven or sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, constantly stirring for about 2 minutes. This will form a paste substance called a roux. The next step is crucial as it will determine whether your sauce is thick and creamy or thin and lumpy. Mix your roux and slowly pour in your milk about a 1/4 of a cup at a time. Add the white pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix and completely before resuming to ensure there are no lumps. Repeat this process until all the milk has been added. A whisk can be helpful in this process, but is not needed. Continue stirring about 8 minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. (But don’t panic if it doesn’t. It will still be delicious!) Add the shredded gouda, reserving 1/4 cup for topping. Combine gouda with the bechamel sauce and stir over the heat for just a few minutes.
Turn off heat and then dump your pasta in the gouda cheese sauce. Mix to combine. If you’re using a cast iron dutch oven, leave it where it lies. If using a baking dish, transfer to the baking dish. Sprinkle the panko bread crumbs and then the remaining smoked gouda cheese on top. Place that bad boy in the over and let it get even more delicious.
Pull it out and bask in the glory of your creation. Try to wait a few minutes to let the cheese sauce thicken and to prevent burning your mouth. It’ll be hard, but worth it, since intact taste buds will make this smoke mac and cheese even more awesome!
Feel free to dig right in and eat it out of the pan.
Or if people are watching, put it in a plate. Honestly, if it’s really cream and gooey, I’ll put my smoked mac and cheese in a bowl and crumble some bacon over the top. This really brings the smokey flavor out.
If this isn’t the best smoked mac and cheese (or smoked gouda mac) you’ve ever had, then you probably burned your taste buds off earlier when you didn’t wait for it to cool.
Maybe next time you’ll listen to me.
Want more delicious recipe ideas?
Consider checking out this Bacon Avocado & Egg Sandwich.