Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 23, 2012

Sometimes the sides are the stars

Dave Lobeck
CNHI News Service

Sellersburg, Ind. —

I realize many of you read this column for tips on how to grill and create world class barbecue, and rightfully so. We have covered a lot of ground in the “Q” genre', and will continue to do so as long as I have a an appetite.

As shocking as it sounds, sometimes the side dishes receive more praise and commentary than the barbecue itself. Don't be upset by this, in fact, embrace it.

Today's recipe is easy, and is a perfect accompaniment to any classic outdoor meal. It is comfort food personified. It is classic, creamy, cheesy -- mac and cheese.

We prepared this mac and cheese in the traditional way and added very little to it, other than a little cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick. Serve it in this form, or think of it as your culinary canvass. You can add steamed vegetables, bacon, smoked pork, the sky is the limit.

We created a video that you can see at If you don't want to type all of that just go to and click on “side dishes.”

This recipe was to serve 12 guys who came over for our fantasy football draft, so please alter the amounts called for accordingly, unless you want tons of leftovers. And while on that subject, mac and cheese warms up well in the microwave for a great evening snack, which I have had on occasion.

Please don't tell my wife I said that.

2 lbs. of dry macaroni noodles
½ cup of flour
1 stick of real butter
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 lb. Velveeta cheese (cubed)
8 cups milk
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a huge pot, boil the noodles until cooked and drain. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot with a thick bottom over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, slowly add and vigorously stir in the flour with a whisk. The thick bottom will keep the flour from burning and the milk from scalding. Once the flour is fully mixed in and smooth, you now have a roux. Slowly add the milk while once again vigorously stirring with a whisk. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil while stirring occasionally. The mixture should now coat the back of a spoon. Add the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

Add the cooked noodles and mix. Now add the two cheeses and turn off the heat. Stir until all the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large casserole dish which has been sprayed with a no-stick spray. Smooth out and sprinkle the top with more cheddar cheese and dried bread crumbs for texture. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and crisp.

Enjoy this great comfort food classic!

Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at