Smoked Bacon Mac-and-Cheese

Oh my goodness. I’ve had my share of mac-and-cheese and then some. I’ve even grilled it. But nothing has ever come close to this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese. Yeah, it’s creamy ooey gooey cheesy like any proper mac-and-cheese should be. And it has bacon, glorious bacon. And it’s smoked. Yes, smoked. Not a lot of smokiness, not too much to overwhelm, but the exact perfect amount. This is just crazy good eats.

If you’re in the mood to make this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese even more over-the-top, add a few good handfuls of leftover smoked pulled pork. It’s a fantastic way to use up pulled pork if by chance you have some on hand. Me, I’d already eaten all of my smoked pork, and I was very, very happy with this dish without it.

Smoked Bacon Mac-and-Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-14 servings
 
You'll need a 9x13" deep disposable aluminum pan.
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) box elbow noodles
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 5 cups half and half
  • 9 x 13 x 3 (or so) deep foil pan
  • 3 cups shredded cheese mix (I used a Mexican cheese blend), divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Fire up your smoker for 225 F. Use whatever wood you like, but I would recommend a lighter fruit wood such as cherry or peach.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with foil. You might need two baking sheets if they aren't large enough to hold all of the bacon.
  4. Add bacon to baking sheet and sprinkle with the BBQ rub.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, sprinkle with more rub and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until cooked but not overly crispy. Remove from oven and transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Crumble the bacon once cooled.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook 8-9 minutes until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.
  7. Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium eat. Once melted whisk in the flour, mustard, salt, paprika and black pepper. Whisk for 2 minutes.
  8. Slowly whisk in the half and half. Keep whisking for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in the 4 cups of cheddar cheese. Pour over the noodles and stir gently to combine.
  10. Place half of the noodle and cheese mixture into the aluminum pan.
  11. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mix and more of the rub.
  12. Add remaining noodles and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mix.
  13. Add more rub and all of the crumbled bacon.
  14. Place on the smoker and smoke for 2-3 hours depending on how smokey you want it.
  15. Remove and let rest at least 30 minutes (good luck with waiting that long!) before slicing and serving.

Smoked Chicken Thighs

I have been smoking all sorts of meats for years. But for some reason, chicken thighs never made it onto my list of things to smoke. I was jonesin’ for a BBQ chicken sandwich. Now normally, I’d smoke a boneless chicken breast that I had brined (to keep it moist and tender) and shred or chop it. But since I’ve been on a chicken thigh kick lately, and had a freezer full of thighs from the last time they went on sale, that’s what I went with. And boy I could not have been happier.

After just a few hours on the smoker the chicken thighs were done. Super juicy and tender, I knew I was in for a treat. It didn’t take long to remove the skin (it’s not going to get crispy and hey, it’s not the healthiest part of the chicken) and separate the meat from the bones. Smoked thigh meat is perfect on BBQ sandwiches or nachos or pizzas.

Smoked Chicken Thighs
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 5 pound bone in, skin on chicken thighs
For the brine
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce
For the rub
  • Prepared yellow mustard
  • Your favorite BBQ rub (I used my basic BBQ rub)
Instructions
  1. Trim any excess fat from the thighs. Place them in a large (large enough to hold the chicken and brine) resealable container.
  2. Add the brine. Stir gently to make sure the chicken is all exposed to the brine. Seal and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine (discard) and rinse with cold water. Return the chicken to the (now dry) container.
  4. Squirt the thighs with the mustard, turning to get all sides. Rub the mustard around and cover the thicken.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken with the rub, making you sure you get it on all sides.
  6. Fire up your smoker for cooking at 230 F. Use a nice fruit wood such as hickory. For a stronger smoke flavor use hickory.
  7. Add the chicken to the smoker and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 170 F, 2 to 2 1/12 hours.
  8. Remove the chicken. Discard the skin. Pull the meat from the bones and chop or shred as desired.
For the brine
  1. Combine all ingredients. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno-Stuffed Olives

I’ve found the replacement for eating popcorn while watching a movie. No more of that. Grilled bacon-wrapped jalapeno-stuffed olives are much, much better. Yeah, there’s definitely a spicy kick to them. And a little smokiness from the bacon. A bit salty. Just give me a bowl of these little bites and a little cool ranch or blue cheese dressing (gotta cool off!) and I’m happy!
You don’t have to go the spicy route if you don’t want to. Any stuffed olives will work just fine for this recipe. Try Gouda-stuffed olives, they’re fantastic too! Just make sure you get big olives, big enough to wrap the bacon around. Those lil ole pimento-stuffed olives that are barely bigger than peanuts just won’t do.

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno-Stuffed Olives
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15 bites
 
Ingredients
  • 15 jalapeno-stuffed green olives
  • 5 slices thin bacon, cut into thirds
  • Your favorite rub or seasoning
  • Ranch or blue cheese dressing, for serving
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for indirect cooking.
  2. Wrap each olive in a piece of bacon. I didn't need a toothpick to secure the bacon, but you might.
  3. Sprinkle your rub out on a plate and roll the bacon-wrapped olives in it to coat.
  4. Grill 20-30 minutes or until the bacon is cooked.
  5. Serve with cool ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Grilled Yellow Squash

Simple yet delicious. You don’t always have to struggle to come up with a grill-able side dish idea, and you definitely don’t have to spend hours or even many minutes putting one together. Grilled yellow squash actually made me love squash, and let me tell you, that’s not an easy thing to do. The key for me was the onions. And that means Vidallia onions when I can get them. Always.
I also like adding my favorite seasonings to the foil packet instead of ‘just’ salt and pepper. One we truly enjoy is the Casa Seasoning from Albukirky Seasonings. It’s the perfect blend of salt, pepper, garlic and lemon, among other things.

Grilled Yellow Squash
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 6 medium yellow squash, sliced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for indirect cooking at 350 F. Alternatively, you can make this in an oven preheated to 350 instead.
  2. Place all ingredients on a large piece of aluminum foil. Seal tightly.
  3. Transfer to the grill or oven and cook 20-25 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Grilled Marinated Medley

We were both blown away by just how wonderfully tasty this grilled marinated medley was. It was the perfect dish for a nice (but kinda warm) spring day here in Indiana. And it couldn’t have been any easier. We just grilled a few vegetables and a little smoked sausage, tossed them all into a pan along with some broth and balsamic vinegar, and in no time we had a complete dinner. And yes, like us you’ll want to drink the juices out of the bottom of the pan. They’re divine.

There aren’t any rules to making this grilled marinated medley. Use whatever meat and vegetables you desire or can find fresh. I went with a no-thrills smoked sausage ring, sliced into rings, and then just grilled a few of our favorite vegetables. Zucchini would also be great in it, along with squash.

Grilled Marinated Medley
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 18 ounces smoked sausage
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 ears corn on the cob, husked
  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for direct and indirect cooking.
  2. Grill the sausage then cut into rounds.
  3. Toss the potatoes with just a splash of oil and grill (I use a grill basket) until just starting to get soft. Remove.
  4. Also place the corn onto the grill. Rotating often, cook until starting to char.
  5. In a large deep disposable aluminum pan combine all ingredients.
  6. Place back onto the grill over indirect heat and let cook another 30 minutes-1 hour or until the potatoes are completely done and the onions are softened. You don't want the broth to boil, but a light simmer is ok.
  7. Serve hot with plenty of the broth from the bottom of the pan.

Grilled Black Radishes

This is not my first time grilling radishes, but it’s definitely the first time I’ve grilled black radishes. ‘Normal’ little ole red radishes are absolutely delicious when grilled, and they’re something very different. When I came across black radishes I had to grab them even though I had no idea what to expect. My first bite of a raw black radish was spicy. Very spicy. Much hotter than the hottest red radish I’d ever had. But grilled, the black radishes took on a wonderful sweetness.

I would make grilled black radishes again and again. I found them in a specialty market, but hopefully they’ll become more mainstream in time because they are really awesome, and not just grilled. I could imagine some really great sandwiches or salads with raw black radishes… yum!

Grilled Black Radishes
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound large black radishes, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ice cube
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill for direct grilling.
  2. Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil.
  3. Add radishes to the center of the foil. Sprinkle with the garlic, butter, and salt and pepper.
  4. Top the radishes with the ice cube.
  5. Fold the edges of the foil over and pinch to seal.
  6. Place on the grill for 20 minutes or until tender.
  7. Serve immediately with more salt and pepper.

Porkburgers

I never need an excuse to make a recipe that Dave posts on Old Dave’s Po-Farm. That’s why when I saw these porkburgers I was all over them. I knew they’d be as fantastic as Dave said, and they were that and more. You’ll totally re-think the old beef burger for sure. Tender, juicy and packed with flavor. This recipe makes 12 burgers, which might seem like a lot but they’ll be gone so fast you’ll probably want to double it.
I didn’t go crazy with toppings for our porkburgers. The patties are so flavorful that I didn’t want to hide them. Just a bit of lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and yellow mustard and that’s it. No cheese required.

Do make sure that you mix the ingredients for the patties and let them sit in the fridge overnight. You’ll get a lot more flavor if you don’t rush your porkburgers.

Porkburgers
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 burgers
 
Ingredients
For the patties
  • 3 pounds fresh ground pork
  • 1 package onion soup mix (or use 5 tablespoons of my homemade mix)
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite BBQ rub or seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the burgers
  • 12 hamburger buns
  • Green leaf or iceberg lettuce
  • Tomatoes, slices
  • Sweet onion, sliced
  • Yellow mustard
Instructions
For the patties
  1. Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, form into 12 patties, each just slightly larger than 4 ounces (you can make larger patties if you wish).
  3. Grill until done, 165 F.
  4. Assemble burgers by adding lettuce, onion, tomato and yellow mustard to buns, topped with the cooked porkburger patties.

Copycat McDonald’s Cheddar Melt

“Bring it back!” “Bring it back!” That’s what a lot of folks are saying when they think about McDonald’s Cheddar Melt, which first came out around 2000, but it wasn’t available for long. But, so far, no luck. That’s when you have to step up and make it at home. And hey, to be honest.. it’s even better than I rememeber!

The real winning flavor on these McDonald’s Cheddar Melts is the onion and teriyaki mixture. It compliments the meaty burger and creamy cheddar sauce perfectly. I grilled my burgers because, well, that’s what I do, but you can also cook the burgers in the same pan that you cook the onions.
The cheese and onions are also perfect on hot dogs, so don’t be afraid to double or even triple the recipe. And hey, a dash or two of hot sauce isn’t a bad idea either. But don’t go crazy with it. You definitely do not want to hide the wonderful flavor of the toppings on these McDonald’s Cheddar Melts. Heck, you could just eat the cheese and onion with a spoon!

McDonald's Cheddar Melt
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
For the cheese sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted. butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Pinch each Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the onions
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon teriyaki sauce (store-bought or use my homemade version, below)
For the burgers
  • 4 burger patties
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns
For the teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Instructions
For the cheese sauce
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk in the flour until combined. Cook for 1-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking for 3 minutes to thicken.
  4. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.
For the onions
  1. Add oil to a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until tender.
  3. Stir in the teriyaki sauce.
  4. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.
For the burger
  1. Season burgers well with salt and pepper. Fire up your grill for direct and indirect cooking. Optionally, you can cook the burgers in the same skillet as you cook the onions.
  2. Grill burgers to desired doneness.
  3. Toast buns if desired.
  4. Assemble burgers by placing patties on buns. Top with cheese sauce and onion mixture.
For the teriyaki sauce.(makes more than you'll need for the burgers)
  1. Place 3/4 cup water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar, and honey in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. In a small cup or bowl combine 1/4 cup of water and the cornstarch. Whisk the mixture into the saucepan.
  3. Heat until sauce is the desired thickness, about 3 minutes. If too thick whisk in a bit more water.