Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston Cooks up Some Comfort Food

Saturday 04th, January 2020 / 16:42 Written by
Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston Cooks up Some Comfort Food

Stay Comfy this Winter with Delicious Comfort Recipes by Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston!

If the winter weather is going to keep you inside, you might as well eat good! Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston’s delicious comfort recipes are sure to keep you warm this winter season and are easy to make in the coziness of your home!

Taken from Cookston’s cookbook, “Smoking in the Boys’ Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South,” the below award-winning recipes for pot brisket chili, BBQ meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato biscuits will help you prepare delicious recipes in the comfort of your home and stay warm this winter!

With the winter weather here most of us don’t want to do much outdoor grilling. Melissa Cookston said she did cook a brisket a couple of days previously, just to try out a new smoker. “As it was just the fam around, I had plenty of leftovers. So, another snow day (enough already!) and I decided to break out the instant pot and make a brisket chili! Bam! Multiple goals in one meal accomplished – use leftover brisket, try out instant pot, and have a warming meal,” she stated!

“I am not a fan of canned beans, though I am forced to occasionally use them. However, armed with my new appliance I wanted to test it out, so went with dried beans (unsoaked- remember this is kind of a spur of the moment thing here!) Dried beans are super easy in the instant pot.  Basically, wash and sort them, then just give them a run through the “bean” cycle with stock (I use 4 cups liquid per 1 lb beans). Then, add remaining ingredients and run through another bean cycle and voila! You have dinner! Here’s the recipe- Tell me how you like it!’

All recipes & photos credit: Chef Melissa Cookston!


1 lb dried pinto beans washed and sorted
4 tsp kosher salt divided; or to taste
4 cup beef stock
2 TBS chili powder divided
1 TBS canola oil
1 TBS minced garlic
1/2 green bell pepper diced
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
1.5 lbs. cooked brisket cubed
(1) 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Diced fresh Jalapeños optional
1/2 cup shredded cheddar for garnish

  1. Wash dried pinto beans. Drain, and pour into instant pot
  2. Add beef stock, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 TBS chili powder. Turn on instant pot to “Beans” cycle, which will take 30 minutes plus the time it takes to heat up.
  3. While instant pot is cooking beans, sautéed onions, peppers and garlic until golden.
  4. When cycle is finished, manually release steam. Add in brisket, tomatoes, remaining seasonings, onions, peppers, and garlic, and cubed brisket. Set Instant Pot for “Bean” Cycle again and start.
  5. Allow instant pot to cook for cycle, then release steam naturally (about 20 more minutes than cooking cycle.) Open instant pot, stir, and taste for seasonings. You may need to add some for your taste.
  6. Garnish with cheese, and jalapeños if desired. Serve this bowl of smoky deliciousness and enjoy!

“This is always one of the best sellers in our restaurants. It combines the comfort of homemade meat loaf with a caramelized barbecue sauce for a richer flavor.”


Chef Melissa Cookston winter comfort food
Photo credit: MelissaCookston.com
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Ultimate BBQ Rib
  • ½ cup Chipotle Bold BBQ Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 large egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine everything except ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce and mix well.
  3. You’ll have to get your hands dirty for this one! Fit the mixture into a 9-inch square pan and press down firmly.
  4. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.
  5. Remove, drain off excess grease, coat with the remaining ¼ cup of barbecue sauce, and return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the sauce has glazed the meatloaf.
  6. Slice and serve.

“In the South, we don’t make baked lobster mac and cheese with Gruyere crust; we make macaroni in a rich creamy cheese sauce and are dang happy to have it!”


Chef Melissa Cookston winter comfort food
Photo credit: MelissaCookston.com
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded American cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Cook the macaroni in the water and oil according to the package directions. Drain, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cheeses about a cup at a time, stirring until melted after each addition.
  5. Pour the cheese sauce into the cooked macaroni and stir.
  6. Taste, add more salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

“Sweet potatoes are a constant companion for the Southern cook. You name the dish and we’ll figure out a way to work a sweet potato into it. Sweet potatoes have been a mainstay in the South as they love to grow in our climate and soil, and they last for a long time when stored properly. Sweet potatoes, usually “cured” n a root cellar, provide sweet deliciousness all through the year. For this I like to bake instead of boiling the sweet potatoes to help pull moisture out of them.”


Chef Melissa Cookston winter comfort food
Photo credit: MelissaCookston.com
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus ¼ cup for rolling
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (preferably baked)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature, divided
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • Cornmeal, for sprinkling on pizza stone
  1. Preheat a Big Green Egg or a dry grill (no water pan) to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pizza stone inserted.
  2. In a large bowl, place the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  3. In another large bowl, mix the sweet potato and 4 tablespoons of the butter together using a fork, then add and cut the sweet potato mixture into the flour until it makes a coarse dough.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk and keep mixing. If the dough looks too dry or flaky, add 1 more tablespoon of buttermilk, until the dough holds together, and all of the flour is incorporated.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured cutting board, roll it out to a ½ inch thickness, and cut it with a 2 ¼-inch biscuit cutter. (Like a speed limit, this size is merely a suggestion).
  6. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and lightly sprinkle flaked salt on too.
  7. Lightly sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza stone, then place the biscuits on it and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the biscuits have risen and are lightly crusted.

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