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Double crispy mac 'n cheese.....

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    Double crispy mac 'n cheese.....

    This might cover a few bases so it'll give the mods something to do if I didn't choose the correct channel.

    I had a hankerin' for some comfort food tonight, and got to thinkin' that a recent mod I did on one of my cookers would be just right for a little experiment. This is a big club house with lots of talented cooks and likely what I've done is not new, so forgive if I'm being repetitive.

    I've got a charcoal cooker I've named "The Big Silver Box". It's a flashy toy with a few bells and whistles, but it boils down to having two zones with variable height fire bins that allow for intense direct cooking as well as smoking depending on vent adjustment in coordination with fire box placement. The manufacturer makes an optional grate replacement piece that is a solid sheet of stainless steel with a 12" hole in the middle to hold a pot or pan, or something else. It replaces one of the two grates of the original configuration. My hot rodder brain is always churning "what ifs" and when I ran across a nice, heavy duty, stainless grate marketed by Weber it triggered an idea in my head. It's marketed by Weber for one of their gas grilles and comes in three sections, one being the 12" diameter hole filler for their GBS system, the others being the grate in two pieces. The two piece thing posed a small problem in that the support system of my grill wouldn't hold it flat, allowing to basically cave in at the middle, even before weight was added. Also it was a couple inches too long for the "hole" in my grill body. None of that was very challenging, a little work with a cutoff wheel, and then transfer those trimmed bits to the underside of the grate, some flashes with the welder and it's a one piece grate with a hole in the middle that the supplied filler piece fit perfectly.

    So, tonight I whipped up some elbow macaroni, some cheese sauce consisting of white and orange cheddar, as well as Gruyere, and sautéed up a small portion of sausage left over from a dish my bride made a couple nights ago. Sort of a "what's in the refrigerator" deal. Once the mac was par cooked, the sauce made up, and some bread crumb topping of butter, panko, and "regular" bread crumbs, we were ready to drop it in the pan and onto the fire. The adjustability of the fire box came into play when it was raised to the top to brown the sausage pieces, then dropped to the bottom to turn the Big Silver Box into a functional smoking oven. The pan I chose is similar to a paella pan, carbon steel, relatively wide and shallow compared to a pan you would normally use to bake macaroni. Why? Double crispy baby...……..I was shooting for the bread crumb crunch on the top, and toasted cheese crunch on the bottom. The Gruyere is probably the key there as it's the fattier of the three cheeses used. I ran the cooker at 400ish, about 30 minutes, so if you try this make sure your sauce is wet enough to survive that temp. Tip: use some of the pasta cooking water to adjust the fluidity once in the pan. If the bottom crust is too much for your tastes, less time, or temp, or a combo of both...…….there's still some art even in a simple dish.

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    Great idea. Love the frico bottom. I can taste that crispy cheese. I get a similar effect when I use my waffle iron to reheat leftover mac and cheese.


      Looks great, a really nice take on a lifelong Comfort Food!
      Many thanks fer sharin, Brother!
      Nuthin wrong with Simple Foods!


        Nice thinkin' outside the (Kraft mac and cheese) box.



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