Rigatoni noodles make the difference

By C.W. Cameron

DAVE POE’S BBQ

660 Whitlock Ave., Marietta, 770-792-2272, www.davepoes.com

Q: Dave Poe’s BBQ on Whitlock [Avenue] has the best mac and cheese I’ve found since moving here from South Florida. Can you get them to share the recipe? Thanks. — Tom Flynn, Marietta

A: Our readers’ letters make it clear that many of them judge a barbecue restaurant as much by the quality of its macaroni and cheese as by the smokiness of its meat. Or maybe it’s that they know that, while they don’t have the equipment to reproduce the barbecue pork at home, they just might be able to bake a pan of this favorite side dish.

Fortunately for us, Mindy Hinson of Dave Poe’s BBQ was happy to share their recipe, which uses rigatoni noodles instead of the more traditional elbow macaroni, and it is brilliant in its simplicity.

Dave Poe’s Mac and Cheese

1 (16-ounce) package rigatoni

Salt

1 quart heavy cream

1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1/2 pound shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1/4 pound shredded Parmesan, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. The cooking water should be salted to the point where it tastes like sea water. Cook the pasta until just done. Drain cooked pasta and do not rinse.

Immediately put in a large mixing bowl. Add cream, 1 cup cheddar, 1 cup Monterey Jack and 1/2 cup Parmesan to pasta and toss together. Pour into prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, toss remaining cheddar and Monterey Jack together and sprinkle on top of pasta. Top with remaining Parmesan. Dish may be prepared ahead to this point and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, bake 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and top is lightly browned. Makes 10 servings.

Per serving: 720 calories (percent of calories from fat, 66), 23 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 53 grams fat (33 grams saturated), 183 milligrams cholesterol, 494 milligrams sodium.