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Guests have eagerly been devouring the mac 'n' cheese at Luella's Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square for eight years now. When Tyris Bell, the brother of Luella's chef Darnell Reed and the restaurant's manager, opened his own spot, Bell Heir's BBQ in Canaryville, he also decided to include mac 'n' cheese on his menu. It's "basically the same" as the version at Luella's, Bell says, although at Bell Heir's it might come as a topping for a turkey leg or a base for brisket.
Bell shared his recipe for the cheesy delight with us. Try it yourself—but if you're lazy, you can always visit Luella's or Bell Heir's.
Mac 'n' Cheese from Bell Heir's BBQ and Luella's Southern Kitchen
All of the mac 'n' cheese served at Bell Heir's BBQ is baked, but this recipe is just for mac 'n' cheese before being baked.
3 tbsps unsalted butter
3 tbsps all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper.
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsps mustard powder
4 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
8 ozs American cheese, shredded (2 cups)
3 ozs sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
Pasta of your choice
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, pepper, and paprika until no lumps remain, then cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in the mustard, then very slowly whisk in the milk until smooth.
3. Add the bay leaf, bring to a simmer, and cook, whisking often and scraping the corners of the pan, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from heat and add the American and cheddar cheeses a handful at a time, whisking thoroughly to incorporate between each addition, until the sauce is completely smooth. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
5. Put cheese sauce back over heat and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and stir. Serve.
Learn more about Bell Heir's BBQ and Tyris Bell.