Smoked Pasta with Brazilian Cream Cheese
When it comes to comfort food, few dishes rival good, old-fashioned mac n cheese. Creamy, gooey, and flavorful, it is a perfect meal on its own, and a glorious accompaniment to churrasco. If you thought you couldn’t elevate this staple dish, any further, prepare to be amazed:mac n cheese can be smoked right along with your favorite proteins. The smoke adds a whole new element to an already flavor-packed and decadent pasta dish. What’s more, it’s easy! Read on for a fabulous recipe for smoked mac n cheese. We have a feeling you won’t be going back to baked any time soon.
Mac n Cheese in Brazil
Brazilians love cheese, so it’s no surprise that mac n cheese is nearly as popular there as it is here in the US. Of course, there are a few distinctly Brazilian ingredients that set the dish apart from its American cousin. The cheeses are a couple of national favorites you’ll find in nearly every dish that calls for dairy: mozzarella and requeijao. These milder cheeses are ideal when making a smoked mac n cheese, since the flavors won’t overpower that smoky element.
Brazilian mac n cheese is also typically made with penne, not elbow macaroni. The grooves in penne allow the creamy sauce to fully coat each noodle, and the bigger size keeps the noodles a little more separated than in traditional mac n cheese. This is definitely more of a pasta than a casserole, although Brazilians don’t shy away from baked dishes either.
Finally, our smoked Brazilian mac n cheese incorporates a little tomato goodness. Topped with parmesan cheese, the final product has an italian flare not dissimilar to baked ziti, but far creamier.
Can You Freeze Smoked Mac n Cheese
Sure. Frozen smoked mac n cheese will keep for up to six weeks in your freezer. For best results, defrost or fully thaw the mixture before re-heating. This allows the sauce to melt evenly. You may need to add a little fresh cream to smooth out lumps that may have formed while freezing.
Cheese Substitutes for Mac n Cheese
Requeijao is not commonly found in stores in the US. Luckily, you can easily make homemade Brazilian cream cheese. If this is a little more effort than you’d like, you can substitute American cream cheese.
We are sticking with mozzarella cheese for our smoked mac n cheese. However, there are a few different cheeses that would be very well suited to a little smoke flavor: gouda, provolone, havarti, or, of course, cheddar.
What Wood Chips for Smoked Mac n Cheese?
Mild wood chips are best for a good, but not overwhelming, smoke flavor. Try cherry, pecan, or applewood chips.
Recipe for Smoked Mac n Cheese (Maccaroneda com Requeijao)
1 lb dried penne (16 oz)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1 cup requeijão (Brazilian cream cheese)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 oz shredded or grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add in the penne and cook until al-dente. Strain and toss with a little olive oil. Reserve ¼ cup or so of the pasta water.
- While the pasta cooks, heat a large, heat-safe skillet over medium heat (cast iron works well).
- Add in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Saute the onion until translucent. Then add in the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds, just until fragrant.
- Add in tomato sauce and a splash of the reserved pasta water. Add a few twists of freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt (we used 1.5 tsp). Bring the mixture to a high simmer, then reduce to medium, cover and cook until it has thickened (around 5 minutes).
- Now, stir in the heavy cream. Heat the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat.
- Add in your mozzarella cheese and cream cheese, stirring constantly off the heat until all the cheese is melted.
- When the sauce has come together, pour in the penne noodles and stir until evenly coated.
- Top the smoked mac n cheese with the shredded parmesan cheese.
- Transfer the pan to the smoker and “bake” for 45 minutes to one hour. Keep an eye on the mixture so it doesn’t dry out.
- Top finished smoked mac n cheese with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:
- Brazilian Grilled Cheese Skewers
- Pastel de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Pastry)
- Arroz Carreteiro (Rice Made From Leftovers)