Following is my recipe for cast iron skillet mac and cheese on the grill. It’s really not that different than making skillet mac on your stove, but make sure to have all your ingredients measured and at the ready before you begin. Unlike inside the kitchen, where the fridge is only a few steps away, you don’t want your garlic to burn if you need to spend 5 minutes measuring the broth or milk.
Note that I use a 3-burner gas grill for all of my recipe testing. If your grill is smaller, or if you’re using charcoal instead of gas, your cook times may vary—the kale may sauté more quickly on a smaller or hotter grill, or the milk may take longer to heat if your coals aren’t giving off as much heat. Like campfire cooking, it’s always best to keep an eye on your food until you have a more comfortable sense of average cook times on your particular grill.
Cast Iron Skillet Kale Mac and Cheese
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 3 cups whole milk or reduced fat milk
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces; 227 grams) elbow macaroni
- 1 cup (4 ounces; 113 grams) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces; 57 grams) shredded Cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet on the grill and preheat to medium-low (300-350 degrees F) for a gas grill or indirect cooking for a charcoal grill.
Heat the oil in the preheated skillet and add a few handfuls of the kale. Stir to coat with oil, then cover the grill and let the kale cook for a few minutes. As the kale wilts and softens, add another few handfuls, repeating the process until all the kale is cooked through and dark green.
Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt, and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the broth and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.
Stir in the milk, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon additional kosher salt. Cover and let the milk come to a simmer.
Stir in the elbows. Cover and cook, lifting the grill lid to stir frequently, until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the liquid.
Stir in the cheese a few handfuls at a time, letting the cheese melt into the sauce before adding the next handful.
Sprinkle the panko and Parmesan across the mac and cheese. Cover and cook until the panko is toasty and the mac and cheese is bubbling around the edges.