Combine two classic comfort foods together to make this leftover pulled pork mac and cheese with garlic panko, one amazing dinner the whole family will be fighting over! Find more leftover pulled pork recipes here.
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Since we purchased our Big Steel Keg a few years ago, my husband has perfected smoking meats and grilling up delicious barbecue. So much so, that even my dad, who recently moved from Houston to San Diego leaving behind his beloved Texas barbecue, has proclaimed hubby’s smoked brisket and smoked pork roast equally delicious.
So, we make a lot of barbecue. I mean, A LOT OF BARBECUE. And a lot of barbecue means a lot of leftovers! It’s not a bad problem to have, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes we freeze our leftover pulled pork and brisket, but many times, I work the leftovers into new recipes, like this leftover pulled pork mac and cheese and the killer garlic panko topping.
Best pasta for macaroni and cheese
As the name suggests, the iconic elbow macaroni is always a favorite as the base for any macaroni and cheese. It is short yet sturdy and holds up with the cheesy sauce. Almost any pasta can be used, but I would not use spaghetti, fettuccini or linguine type noodles.
Other favorite pastas to use include: small shells, penne, fusilli, farfalle, rotini and ziti.
Can pulled pork mac and cheese be made ahead?
There are several ways you can prepare and serve this dish. The entire meal can be assembled, ready to bake, but cover in foil and refrigerate to be baked later or the next day. Just make sure you are using a dish that can go from refrigerator to oven.
You can also bake the entire dish and reheat it later. To reheat your mac and cheese, bake in the oven at 350ºF for 20 minutes until warm and bubbly.
If you are using the types of pastas I suggested, you can freeze your mac and cheese. But I would not freeze them in a baking dish, but in freezer safe containers. Even better, divide them into individual serving sizes for easy reheating – especially for the always-hungry-teenager.
Best cheese to use
When it comes to mac and cheese, my eldest son considers himself a connoisseur. He loves all kinds in all of its shapes, sizes and flavors. From boxed to homemade, he’s never met a mac and cheese he didn’t like.
When it comes to the type of cheese to use, you can get very creative and use a wide number of cheeses. From the classic sharp cheddar to even brie. You can also combine cheeses to get more flavor. If you do combine cheeses, I suggest mixing a hard cheese with a soft cheese to balance flavor and add more creaminess.
Here are some of my favorite cheeses to use:
- Sharp cheddar
- Monterey Jack
- Pepper Jack
- Smoked Gouda
- Goat Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 oz macaroni
- 3 TBS unsalted butter, divided
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1 TBS all purpose flour
- 2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cup cooked and shredded pulled pork
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Bring a large pot of water with 1 tsp salt to boil.
- When water is at a rolling boil, add macaroni.
- Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
- Drain pasta in a colander and reserve.
- Return pot to the stove and over medium heat add 2 TBS butter with 1 TBS olive oil.
- When butter is melted stir in crushed garlic and cook until lightly browned.
- Stir in panko crumbs and dried parsley and cook 1 more minute.
- Transfer panko mix to a bowl and reserve.
- Return pot to the stove and over medium heat melt 1 TBS butter.
- When butter is melted, stir in flour.
- Continue stirring and cooking for 1 minute then slowly whisk in milk.
- When milk is completely incorporated with the butter mixture, continue whisking until sauce thickens, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in shredded cheese then remove from heat when cheese is completely melted into the cream sauce.
- Stir in reserved macaroni and mix well. Transfer macaroni into an 8x8 pan.
- Top macaroni with shredded pulled pork and spread evenly.
- Spread garlic panko evenly over the pulled pork.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
If you don't have or eat pork, you can substitute pulled pork with shredded brisket or chicken.
This dish can be assembled a day ahead and baked later.
Alternative pastas to use include small shells, penne, fusilli, farfalle, rotini and ziti.
You can also use a variety of cheeses including monterey Jack, pepper Jack, gruyere, smoked souda, parmesan, havarti.
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Serving Size:1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 755Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 1952mgCarbohydrates: 70gFiber: 4gSugar: 21gProtein: 38g