September 29, 2022

State Fair Salmon Mac & Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 ounce dried elbow macaroni
  • Kosher salt, for boiling
  • 8oz cooked sockeye salmon, flaked
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp dried minced onion
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1lb Cooper Sharp White Cheese, sliced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Captain Steve and Co-Captain Jenn have been attending their hometown fair in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania for as long as they can remember. The statewide event is a week-long festival so celebrated that in the past, even schools would close in order to allow students an opportunity to work or play during fair week.

One of the many highlights of our fair is the eccentric array of foods attendees have seen over the years. Between a local pizza booth that’s been around for over 35 years with the tastiest stromboli in PA for miles and a gyro stand known for its gyros and shish kabobs, there is always something for folks to look forward to.

Inspired by this culinary creativity that is once again taking place here in Bloomsburg this week, we’re innovating your regular homemade mac and cheese recipe in order to achieve that same fair food feel right at home. Easy to make in a standard kitchen and a dish that will keep your guests thinking about it for days afterwards, this seafood mac & cheese recipe is one you have to try!

So, what goes with mac and cheese?

At one point or another, you’ve probably seen a mac and cheese dish with chicken or pork added in as a source of protein. And while we love the idea of adding more protein to an otherwise protein-less dish, we were on the hunt for a unique way to add both flavor and nutrients to our macaroni and cheese while also turning heads.

With a wild-caught seafood mac and cheese recipe, you can do just that! Seafood has always been a protein source you can get creative with in terms of adding to other dishes. With this mac and cheese recipe, we believe wild sockeye salmon is the ideal seafood source to add as it is bursting with flavor that compliments the sauce, rather than overpowers it. After all, what is mac and cheese without a mouthful of flavorful and gooey cheese in every bite?

How to make homemade mac and cheese?

 Every pot of homemade mac and cheese you’ll want to make should include three essential ingredients; macaroni noodles, cheese (preferably extra gooey) and lots and lots of butter.

The first step to any pasta recipe is to ensure your noodles are boiled to your preferred softness. As your macaroni noodles cook,  you can work on combining your butter, flour and milk into a nice, creamy roux.

Eventually, you will add your cheese and cooked salmon to this mixture in order to achieve a perfectly cooked sauce that brings all the flavor to your meal. We prefer to use a cheese like Cooper Sharp cheddar as it boasts more of a bite than regular cheddar. Parmesan cheese can also be a great substitute!

For the protein, we like to use previously cooked salmon so that you can keep the macaroni noodles tender and sauce the perfect thickness, rather than cooking it all at once and risking overcooking them while trying to complete your salmon.

Whether you cook up a wild salmon fillet for this mac and cheese recipe day-of or decide to take a simpler route by cooking it the night before to save on prep time is up to you. Either way, this is a great stopping point for those who might be trying this dish for the first time and want to keep it simple.

However, if you’re looking for more of a smoked mac and cheese recipe, now is the time to stick that skillet in the smoker!

How long do you smoke mac and cheese?

Smoking your mac and cheese is another great step you can add on to this recipe in order to give it an additional unique flavor. After cooking the mac and cheese in a skillet on your stovetop, transport the skillet to a pre heated smoker grill and let the smoker work its magic. 

One to two hours is an ideal amount of time to smoke mac and cheese, depending on how smoky you’d like your dish to be. If you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb is to pull it off the grill once the cheese is bubbling and the top is lightly browned. This will give your mac and cheese a crispy top that fits right into that deep-fried fair cuisine theme.

Regardless of which cooking method you choose to finish your salmon mac and cheese recipe with, it is best enjoyed in a large bowl or compostable paper boat in order to achieve full fair food feels!

Directions

1)  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for recommended time on package. 

2)  While pasta cooks; in a large well-seasoned cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat with dried onion.

3)  Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until thick, forming a roux. Cook roux for 2 minutes.

4)  Using a whisk, add the milk and stir until the mixture is bubbly and thick.

5)  Cut the Cooper Sharp cheese into cubes and add to the roux. Stir with until the cheese is melted in the sauce.

6)  Add the pasta and cooked salmon to the sauce and mix thoroughly.

    ** Dish could be served at this point, everything is cooked and doesn’t need to be smoked to enjoy! 

    1)  Place the skillet on the 300F pre heated smoker grill. Close the lid and bake the macaroni and cheese until it is bubbling, and the top is lightly browned, 1-2 hours depending how smoky you would like the flavor to be.

    2)  Serve while hot and enjoy! 

      Tags: