Frigid temperatures, top-speed winds, and a lathering of snow… Remember those summer days sprawled out on a lawn chair in your barest attire with a book or a tablet full of Netflix? Then hosing yourself down to cool off or taking advantage of your next-door neighbour’s pool? And, then, of course, the barbecue. Boiled cobs of corn or grilled? Baked chicken or grilled? Raw peach slices or grilled? I rest my case.
Fellow BBQ-lover Dale Mullings, assistant dean student and international initiatives, gets what I’m talking about.
“I love barbecue! Specifically, I love charcoal smokers and creating food that wouldn’t normally be thought of as traditional barbeque,” says Mullings.
Most importantly, he’s figured out how to make his beloved barbecue live on in the winter months. “From grilled cauliflower [and] steaks to breads and chili, I use my barbecue all year round in unique ways,” he says.
He’s certainly put a summer spin on a winter classic: mac and cheese. “This recipe is a favourite of mine, a comfort food with a twist. Feel free to change it up with different cheeses, woods for smoking, or add some paprika to make it your own,” says Mullings.
Why give your winter blahs the attention they don’t deserve? Gimme some good ol’ BBQ and a dose of nostalgia.
Dale’s Smoked Bacon Mac & Cheese
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
- 16 oz macaroni or shell pasta
- 6 strips of bacon
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp red chili flakes
- 4 cups milk
- 10 oz aged cheddar cheese, grated
- 300 g ricotta cheese
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp coarse black pepper
- pecan, cherry, oak, hickory, or apple wood
- 2 green onions, chopped (optional)
- Preheat barbecue to 350 F.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salt water until al dente. Then run pasta under cold water and set aside.
- In a frying pan, cook bacon and place on paper towel to cool. Once cooled, crumble into bacon bits.
- Over direct heat on the barbecue, in a large Dutch oven, add olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add onion and garlic; sauté until browned.
- Mix in flour and red chili flakes and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add milk, 8 oz of cheddar, ricotta, and 2/3 of the cup of breadcrumbs Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until creamy.
- Add cooked noodles, most of the bacon bits, and stir.
- Top with remaining breadcrumbs, bacon bits, cheddar, and cracked pepper.
- Reduce heat to 250 F, add wood chips for smoking, use indirect heat (e.g. a place-setter) and close lid on barbecue.
- Cook for 45 minutes, then top with green onion and enjoy!