Finalist Jernard Wells' dish, Orange Maple Chipotle Pork Chop with Lobster Mac and Cheese, for the Mentor Challenge, Cook For Your Life, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 12.
Recipe courtesy of Jernard Wells

Smokehouse Pork Chops with Mac and Cheese

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 5 min (includes marinating time)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 4 servings


Mac and Cheese:

Pork Chops:


  1. For the mac and cheese: Bring the chicken stock and 12 cups water to a boil in a pasta pot over high heat. Add the macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until al dente, following package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add 1 cup of the heavy cream. Whisk together the flour and remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream in a small bowl until free of lumps. When you start to see tendrils of steam rising from the warming cream, whisk in the flour-cream mixture. Cook, whisking gently, until the sauce has returned to the consistency of heavy cream, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat to low and begin mixing handfuls of cheese into the sauce. Stir in the nutmeg, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Fold in the bacon or lobster if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  4. In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta and half of the cheese sauce, stirring to coat the pasta evenly. Stir in the remaining sauce.
  5. For the pork chops: In a bowl, mix together the chipotles, brown sugar, Worcestershire, liquid smoke, ginger, onion powder, garlic, 2 tablespoons sea salt and 2 tablespoons black pepper. Pour half the mixture into a large bowl; add the pork chops, turning to coat in the marinade. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, turning occasionally, or for maximum flavor, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Refrigerate and reserve the remaining marinade.
  6. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Remove the pork chops from the marinade, shaking off any excess; discard the marinade. Lightly oil the skillet, then immediately add the chops. Cook, using the rosemary sprigs to baste with the reserved marinade, until the meat is well-browned and crisp on the outside and no longer pink inside, 8 to 10 minutes per side -- a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a chop should read at least 145 degrees F.
  7. Pour the remaining reserved marinade into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Serve the chops with the sauce and the mac and cheese.

Cook’s Note

If you have a little extra time, you can bake the macaroni and cheese to give it a golden crust. Pour the prepared mac and cheese into a casserole dish, cover with a lid or foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a few pats of butter and bake, uncovered, until the top is golden and the interior is bubbly, another 10 to 15 minutes.