If it wasn’t evident by my vacation centered around a BBQ tour earlier this year, I sort of have a thing for smoked meat. There’s just something delicious about the deeply rich flavors of a meat that has been slow roasted and smoked for hours.
Today I’m teaming up with Boar’s Head and their SmokeMaster™ Black Forest Ham to talk about how I bring the smoke house into my own house. Whenever I’m preparing a delicious, smoked meat there are always a few rules that I like to follow:
- Purchase a cut of meat that is marbled nicely with fat. The fat will bring extra flavor and juiciness to the cut of meat and as you smoke the meat it will melt out like butter.
- Choose a smoking wood based on the flavor outcome you desire. Woods can range from mildly flavored including notes of apple, peach and cherry to stronger flavors of mesquite. Just make sure if you go mesquite you use it in moderation!
- Do not over-smoke your meat! Smoking should only be done for about half of the cooking time. Nobody wants to eat a mouthful of smoke!
Of course, smoked meat is best complimented with some of my favorite side dishes including pit beans, cornbread and my favorite, macaroni and cheese. This macaroni and cheese that I made for you today brings together deliciously smoked meat AND a side dish in one serving. I’m from Wisconsin so obviously more cheeses are always better than less. And of course, you cannot forget the crumble topping to bring all of the flavors together.
Do you have your own smokehouse rules? Visit the Boar’s Head Smoke House Rules sweepstakes, and enter for a chance to win a gift card by sharing your own culinary rules for creating the perfect smoked recipes. And if you’re all about smoked meat, enjoy a flavor rarely experienced in America with SmokeMaster Beechwood Smoked™ Black Forest Ham. Crafted with the finest ingredients and exceptional care, this ham is naturally smoked with imported German beechwood. The result, a ham with a delicious, distinct flavor that is rich and smooth.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more
- 8 ounces cavatappi or other short curly pasta
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ small onion, grated
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup grated Fontina cheese
- 1 cup grated Gruyère
- 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 cups cubed Boar's Head SmokeMaster™ Black Forest Ham
- Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring, until crumbs are golden brown, 6–8 minutes (make sure to get them toasty brown; they won’t darken much during baking). Transfer to a small bowl and toss with Parmesan, thyme leaves, and ¼ tsp. salt.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (the noodles will continue to cook in the cheese sauce, so take them out a minute or two before you think they’re actually done). Drain pasta; let cool while you make the sauce.
- Bring milk to a bare simmer in a small saucepan; keep warm. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to stick to bottom of saucepan, about 1 minute. Add warm milk in a few additions, whisking to combine after each addition.
- Bring béchamel sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until sauce is thickened and doesn’t feel grainy when a little bit is rubbed between your fingers, 6–8 minutes (cooking the flour thoroughly at this stage ensures a creamy sauce). Add Fontina, Gruyère, cheddar, mustard powder, cayenne, and ¾ tsp. salt and stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and mix in pasta and ham; transfer to a 2-qt. baking dish.
- Bake 10 minutes. Top with Parmesan breadcrumbs and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges, 8–10 minutes longer. Let cool in pan 15 minutes before serving.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.