This pork BBQ mac and cheese favorite hits a savory target
From the May 2023 issue
Chris Beagle is an award-winning Rehoboth Beach Realtor who admits to being both “very competitive, and community service-oriented.” It’s easy to see why. While managing his full-time business as principal agent of The Chris Beagle Group, a five-person team with Compass Real Estate, the former president of CAMP Rehoboth created that service organization’s annual Sundance Racing Festival and its annual fall Block Party, and was a leading advocate for Delaware’s civil union and same-sex marriage legislation.
He did all this while ranked a real estate top producer for the last decade, earning recognition as a member of the President’s Circle and Founders’ Circle in his previous position at Berkshire Hathaway. In 2015, he received its Community Service Award.
Beagle also prides himself on being a foodie. Soon after he and his husband, Eric Engelhart, became the first same-sex couple to have a marriage ceremony in Sussex County, they launched a small business to cater and plan weddings. The couple are also renowned for baking thousands of Christmas cookies. “People ask us to put them on the list for a platter, but we have to cap it at a hundred dozen.”
And last year, Beagle’s savory shrimp bisque won second place in the appetizer category when Habitat for Humanity issued a challenge for Sussex County’s top real estate professionals to be volunteer chefs at the annual “Look Who’s Cooking” competition.
This year, his appetizer submission was pork BBQ mac and cheese “bombs,” which took third place. “Comfort food is one of my favorites,” he says. “Even though these savory treats didn’t bring home first prize, I think they made everyone happy.” Now readers can try it for themselves!
PORK BBQ MAC AND CHEESE BOMBS
3-4 pounds of pork roast (butt or shoulder)
Note: This recipe will likely yield extra pork.
For the rub:
1⁄3 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
For the sauce:
1 cup of chicken stock
1⁄3 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or 1⁄2 cup of ketchup)
2 tablespoons of molasses
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
16-ounce jar of banana pepper rings (mild)
1 medium-size white onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Note: Feel free to substitute one cup of your favorite BBQ sauce for the first five sauce ingredients.
STEP 1 Mix the rub ingredients and save 1⁄4 cup to add to the pork in a slow cooker.
STEP 2 Pat the rub mixture on all sides of the pork. Time permitting, wrap it in saran and refrigerate overnight.
STEP 3 In a Dutch oven, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium-high heat, brown both sides of the pork for two minutes.
STEP 4 Add chicken stock and browned pork to the slow cooker, fatty side up on low heat.
STEP 5 Briefly brown onion in pork drippings for about one minute.
STEP 6 Add sauce ingredients, pepper rings (with liquid), onions, and 1⁄4 cup of rub mixture to the slow cooker. The key is to cook the meat on low and go slow, ideally for seven to eight hours on low heat (if necessary, four to five hours on high). For ideal shredding, the temperature of the pork should be 205 degrees.
STEP 7 Remove the pork and shred it using two meat forks. With a slotted spoon, remove pepper rings and onions, and set them aside.
STEP 8 With the temperature set to high, whisk one to two tablespoons of cornstarch into the sauce left in the cooker. Sauce will thicken in five to 10 minutes. You may need to add more cornstarch to reach desired thickness. Once it does, add the sauce, pepper rings and onions to the pulled pork.
For the mac and cheese:
(makes 48 “bombs”)
2 cups of uncooked elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons each of butter and all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and salt
2 cups each of freshly grated sharp cheddar and gruyere (use 4 cups cheddar if not using gruyere)
1 cup each of ricotta, freshly grated parmesan (or pecorino) and Romano cheese
2 cups of half-and-half at room temperature
1⁄2 cup of Bisquick or biscuit baking mix
1⁄2 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄2 cup of panko breadcrumbs (plain)
STEP 1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook macaroni one minute less than the package directions; drain and drizzle with olive oil.
STEP 2 Spray two trays of 24 mini-muffin cups
STEP 3 In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
STEP 4 Stir in flour and seasonings until smooth; gradually whisk in half-and-half.
STEP 5 Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir until thickened (one to two minutes).
STEP 6 Stir in one cup each of cheddar and gruyere cheese. Once melted, stir in the remaining cheeses until melted.
STEP 7 Remove from the heat; stir in biscuit mix, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Add macaroni and combine it with the cheese sauce.
Step 8 Spoon one tablespoon of mac and cheese mixture into each greased muffin cup; sprinkle with panko. Bake until golden brown, eight to 10 minutes.
Step 9 Cool in pans for five to 10 minutes before placing the “bombs” on a plate and topping them with pork BBQ.