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Smoked Pepper-jack Mac n' Cheese

A little food story today. Not about the Mangalitsa pork Boston butt that Pete smoked on the grill yesterday, which was pretty impressive, no, this is the story of a side dish. A funny little wheel of homemade pepper jack cheese and some penne pasta. 

My favorite food as a kid was mac n’ cheese (and just cheese in general). So it’s probably no surprise to my parents that I spend so much of my adult life making cheese from scratch and that I made this little ode to fancy-grown-up-smoked-pepperjack mac n’ cheese. 

This little wheel of cheese was a funny shape. Not uniform because I lost the follower for my cheese press and pressed it with a bowl that fit inside my hoop. No big deal since I waxed it and the beeswax filled the weird bits in. I only aged this cheese for 2 months. Couldn’t wait. Plus my kids are bigger fans of my younger, milder cheeses. I have a 12 month sharp cheddar that is way too pungent for them, but I like it. Real cheese is a bit different in texture than the store bought experience, so you can see the pepper jack is a little crumblier. It doesn’t have a rubbery texture (I’m not even sure where that texture comes from) like store cheese. It does slice up and grates really easily. The taste with the fresh jalapeños and habaneros was amazing. I do think it could have used a little longer in the salt brine. I may surface salt next time. The pepperjack cheese recipe is HERE.

The pasta recipe is super simple. if you know how to make a roux and a cheese sauce you’re all set. Butter, flour, milk, pepperjack cheese, salt to taste, toss with cooked pasta, loosen with reserved pasta water if needed, shred some extra cheese overtop (I used a homemade Asiago), smoke for about 10 mins. 🤌


  • Freshly grated pepperjack cheese (about 2 cups)

  • 1 lb pasta (I used penne but any short pasta shape will work great!)

  • 2 Tbsp grassfed butter

  • 2 Tbsp organic flour

  • Milk

  • Freshly grated asiago or parmesan (or just more p.jack)

  • Reserved pasta water (to loosen sauce if needed)


  1. Boil pasta in salted water until just al dente

  2. While pasta is boiling melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat

  3. Add flour and stir to combine, keep stirring for a minute to cook this paste

  4. Now start adding little splashes of milk until a creamy sauce forms, whisk away all lumps

  5. The sauce should be a little loose because the cheese will thicken it

  6. Add pepperjack cheese and stir until melted

  7. Season with salt until you like the taste (the pasta will dilute the saltiness)

  8. If the sauce is super thick you'll want to thin with a little pasta water or milk

  9. Drain pasta and toss with the sauce to coat

  10. Pour into a casserole dish and sprinkle asiago over the top

  11. Place it inside your smokey grill (we do this after taking meat off, like the boston butt, and use the residual heat and smoke to flavor the pasta)

  12. Leave the pasta on the grill for 10-20 minutes depending on how smokey you want it (and how hot the grill is) just check so the top doesn't get too brown


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