Cooking With Chicago Chefs

Cooking With Chicago Chef Darnell Reed: Southern-Style Mac and Cheese

Chef Darnell Reed owns Luella's Southern Kitchen in Ravenswood

Every Saturday, NBC Chicago teams up with Chicago chefs for a lesson in cooking. This week, Chef Darnell Reed, of Luella's Southern Kitchen in Ravenswood, shows us how to make Southern-style mac and cheese with brisket.

Ingredients for Mac and Cheese:

  • 3 oz heavy cream
  • 3 oz cheese sauce (recipe for sauce below)
  • 1 slice American cheese
  • 3 oz barbecue brisket
  • 6.5 oz cooked pasta
  • 1.5 T barbecue bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Place the heavy cream, cheese sauce and American cheese in a pan and bring to a simmer. Add the brisket and continue to simmer until the meat is heated through. Add the pasta and season it with salt and pepper. Toss the mixture, letting the sauce continue to form and thicken until it coats the pasta evenly. Season more, if necessary, or serve with toasted bread crumbs.

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce: 

  • 6 oz butter
  • 6 oz AP flour
  • 2 T mustard powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups chopped Spanish onion
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 gallon of whole milk
  • 12 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 6 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz grated Romano cheese
  • 1.5 pounds American cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring occasionally for two or three minutes. Sprinkle the flour and cook for one to three minutes, stirring constantly so the roux doesn't brown. Whisk constantly. Add dry mustard, paprika, bay leaves and milk until no visible lumps. Turn heat to low and bring to a slow simmer, whisking occasionally. Continue to simmer and whisk until you achieve nappe consistency. Remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain sauce, add cheeses and whisk to melt cheese.

Ingredients for Barbecue Spice for Brisket:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 T granulated onion
  • 2 T granulated garlic


Mix all ingredients in a robot coupe for about 15 seconds until they are mixed evenly. Store in a cool, dry place, covered. (NOTE: This is enough rub to season one brisket up to 12 pounds.)

Instructions for Brisket: 

Rub the brisket all over with the barbecue seasoning mix. Smoke the fat side up at 215 degrees for about 12 hours, or one hour and 10 minutes per pound at the same temperature.

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