Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese

This past weekend, I had myself a bit of a cooking marathon on Saturday. We weren’t home much last week, which resulted in a lot of no-cook, thrown together dinners, and I felt the need to do some serious cooking, to make up for it. One of the things I made was this pulled pork (except I used a 2 pound pork tenderloin). We each had a serving of it over the course of the weekend, but 2 pounds of pulled pork is kind of a lot for two people – so I wanted to come up with a way to use some of the pork in a totally different way, so we wouldn’t get sick of it. I’ve been thinking for MONTHS that I wanted to make some kind of macaroni and cheese that had meat in it, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese
Serves 6

1 pound penne pasta
4 T salted butter
4 T all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, grated
4 cups milk (2% or whole)
6 ounces smoked cheddar, grated
6 ounces monterey jack, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups pulled pork or other leftover meat
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil

1.) Cook pasta until just shy of al dente. Preheat oven to 350°.

2.) Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the grated garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3.) Add the flour, whisking it with the butter to form a roux (it should have a paste-like texture). Keep whisking and cooking for a couple minutes, to cook out the raw flour taste, until the roux turns light brown.

4.) Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly, until the roux is fully incorporated with the milk, and there are no lumps. Continue to stir frequently until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 10 minutes (do not let the mixture boil!).

5.) Once the milk mixture has thickened, reduce the heat to low, then stir in the salt and pepper, and the two cheeses. Slowly stir until all the cheese has melted, and you have a smooth sauce. Turn off the heat.

6.) Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (I used a 9×9 pan), and pour half the macaroni and cheese mixture into the bottom of the pan. Top with the pulled pork, spreading it out as best you can, and then top that with the rest of the macaroni. Spread the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the macaroni, and lightly mist with oil (you can also dot a tablespoon or so of butter around the top of the breadcrumbs – this just helps the breadcrumbs brown).

7.) Bake for 30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs have turned golden brown, and the cheese is bubbling.

Well, I must say, this was an excellent way to use up some leftover pulled pork! The sweetness of the sauce on the pork paired so well with the smokiness of the smoked cheddar – and who can refuse the crunchy breadcrumb topping on a pan of mac and cheese?! No one, that’s who.

Why NOT put the main dish inside the side dish?
Tina

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