Start pasta water boiling in a large pot. Once boiling add salt and noodles. Cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Remove the pasta just shy of al dente. Reserve a large mug of pasta water then drain. Add to baking dish with some of the water and stir so that the pasta doesn't stick together.
1 pound elbow macaroni, 1 tablespoon salt
In a medium saucepan, start milk heating over low heat. Do not boil!
Add flour and whisk or stir to remove all of the clumps of flour.
Let the butter and flour mixture bubble for a couple minutes to lose the flour taste.
Slowly pour in warm milk, stirring constantly. Let it cook until thickened. About 5 minutes.
Add parmesan cheese next. That will take the longest to melt.
½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
Then add the shredded cheese.
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Add the pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Taste the cheese sauce for salt now. Different cheeses have different salt content, so you want to wait until all of the cheese is melted.
1½ teaspoons white pepper, pinch nutmeg, 1 tablespoon salt
Pour cheese sauce over the noodles and mix well.
For optional topping
Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl.
4 tablespoons butter
Add bread crumbs. Mix well.
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Sprinkle on top of the macaroni and cheese.
Start your grill or smoker. Add pellets or wood chips. Heat to 225°F / 110°C.
Place macaroni and cheese on grate of smoker.
Smoke for one hour. We don't let it smoke longer than that because the macaroni will quickly become too smoky.
If the mac and cheese isn't hot enough, finish cooking it in the oven or on a grill on the opposite side of the grill that the burner is lit (indirect heat.)
What wood is best?We always use a mild wood for smoking macaroni and cheese. Apple and cherry are our favorites.Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze in single serve portions for a quick addition to busy day dinner.Other cheeses that are goodA combination of cheeses works best. Use sharp cheddar cheese, mild cheddar cheese, gouda cheese, gruyere, cream cheese. Again, whatever you have on hand will work.What to smoke macaroni and cheese in?You can cook this in a variety of vessels. Use a cast iron skillet. Use a disposable foil pan. You a Pyrex baking dish. Any baking pan that can go in the oven can go into the smoker.