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Pulled-Pork Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Four Cheeses

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Serves six.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 103

This macaroni is indulgent, impossibly good, and worth the extra time and effort, but if you're rushed for time, try the Quick Skillet Mac and Cheese.

  • One 4-lb. smoked pork shoulder
  • 12 oz. dried ridged pasta, preferably radiatore
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 Tbs. (2 oz. ) unsalted butter
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1-1/8 oz. (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 3-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. grated Gruyère (1-1/2 cups)
  • 4 oz. grated Emmentaler (11/2 cups)
  • 4 oz. grated fontina (1-1/2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup panko
  • 2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

Put the pork in a large heavy-duty roasting pan, cover with foil, and roast until the meat is falling off the bone, 5 to 6 hours. Cool until warm enough to handle, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water according to package directions until just barely al dente. Drain and set aside.

Shred the pork by hand, pulling it into 2-inch-long pieces. Discard the bone and any excess fat. Set aside 1 lb. of the pulled pork (about 4 cups) and save the rest for another use (see "Leftovers," below, for ideas).

Raise the oven temperature to 350°F. Melt the butter in a large 8-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and very soft, about 20 minutes.

Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Raise the heat to medium high and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble, 3 to 5 minutes.

Whisk in the white wine, sage, and a 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly.

Reduce the heat to low and use a wooden spoon to stir in the Gruyère, Emmentaler, and fontina. Stir in the reserved pork and pasta until well coated. Pour the mixture into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

In a small bowl, mix the panko, Parmigiano, and olive oil. Sprinkle evenly over the mixture in the skillet.

Bake until the topping is browned and the cheese sauce is bubbling through the topping and around the edges of the skillet, 40 to 45 minutes. (If the topping begins to brown too deeply, tent loosely with foil.) Let the macaroni and cheese rest for at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the chives and serve.

Leftovers

Use the leftover pork shoulder in Pork and Potato Hash with Poached Eggs and Avocado; Pork Ragout and Soft Polenta; or Pulled-Pork Sandwiches with Cabbage, Capers, and Herb Slaw.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 920; Fat (g): fat g 46; Fat Calories (kcal): 410; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 23; Protein (g): protein g 51; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 63; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 690; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 170; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I want to give this recipe a great review, but although I enjoyed it I do have mixed feelings about it: it was tasty, but not quite as tasty as I would have thought given all the prep. time and amount of ingredients involved. The same result could be achieved with much cheaper ingredients, it seems (confession though: I did not use the above-mentioned smoked pork, but a high quality ham I already had in my fridge). It tasted RICH too, the kind of richness that feels a little decadent and does not do much to enhance the flavor. Last thing, it was a little on the dry side, I thought. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and rate it 4 stars though, well aware that I alone could be at the origin of these shortcomings. We still enjoyed this dinner, of course, but next time I'll make it (I so want it to work out!) I might pair it down and not use so many different cheeses, and maybe try different herbs/ spices, and more bechamel sauce.

I purchased some of the best pulled pork available in Middle Tennessee to make this recipe, and followed the recipe closely. In my opinion it is too much work and too expensive for such a bland result.

Anyone who says this recipe is bland or flavorless must not be buying quality ingredients! With the rich and flavorful cheeses and a GOOD white wine this is the tastiest, richest, and all around best "mac-n-cheese". I've made it several times now for dinner parties and haven't been disappointed yet.

I bought this issue because I saw "The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese". I search for unique and yummy mac and cheese recipes and have created one of my own, so I had to try this one. Boy was I disappointed. I do like the added wine to the sauce, however would change almost everything else to make the sauce creamier and more flavorful. Makes me suspect of other recipes in this magazine, but have a few picked out to try anyway. By the way, I would have rated this recipe a zero but that was apparently not an option

I loved this recipe, we had just smoked a chicken so I used that in place of the pulled pork, definitely will be making this again.

Time consuming,expensive,tasteless. Besides that it was great(sarcasm) I did not change a thing. Followed the recipe to a T. What a waste of money.

Fabulous; yes it takes some time, but you can cook the pork shoulder days ahead; have a great supper and sandwhiches. Expensive? a little, but it is a speacial treat and probably the best mac and cheese that I will ever have. I did cheat and add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard and worcestershire sauce. My guests raved about the flavour and all are going to buy this finecooking issue. Thank you for bringing out the best cook in me.

Overall this was time consuming but fairly simple and delicious. If I make it again I would tweak a couple of things. The onions made the finished product too sweet, so I would leave them out. There was too much pork in the mac & cheese, so would cut that back too. I think there's a mistake in the recipe, I used a cup of Parmesan, which was most of a 5 oz container. Should it be 2 oz, or 2 cups?

This recipe was outstanding! I didn't find it very time consuming-I seasoned a regular pork shoulder with a spice rub overnight and then cooked it in my slow cooker the next day. The combination of cheeses was perfect-will definitely be making regularly.

No local supermarket had smoked pork, but Whole Foods custom smoked and delivered it on the next day. I agree that this was too expensive and not spicy enough, not unique enough. The left over pork ideas were great, especially the slaw sandwich.

I have yet to make this recipe, so don't let my rating indicate anything. However, I am posting because I have some questions: Did those that tried making this recipe simply roast the pork with no additions (e.g. rubs, etc)? Also, the ingredient lists 1-4lb SMOKED pork shoulder. The recipe then goes on to state that the pork is roasted. Am I missing something? Obviously, there is quite a difference between a smoked and roasted piece of meat. Should I assume they are not using the term smoked in its strictest sense? Any thoughts?

Yes, it does take a long time to prepare - but is OH so worth it! This is an incredible dish that is worthy of the best vino, simple salad (we had baby arugula and shaved parmesean) and definitely second helpings. Loved this dish! Note: I roasted the pork shoulder yesterday, shredded/pulled it and put it in the fridge. Saved lots of prep time today, but still took 3 hours.

I saw this recipe on the front page of the magazine and decided to try it. What a disappointment. It was fairly time consuming, the cheese was expensive and it had no flavor. I would not recommend this at all.

Outstanding! This recipe has changed my opinion of Mac & Cheese. It's worthy of a special occasion dinner, but goes just as well with a simple green salad and balsamic vinaigrette. Unless you are serving some hearty eaters, this makes well more than 6 servings. . .I'd say 8-10 good size portions.

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