Sunday, January 13, 2013

Amazing Mac and Cheese with Sausage

I first discovered Mac and Cheese in all its glory in college, you might be shocked but it is true.  I'll admit I was a late bloomer. Our mom never had it as a staple in our house growing up. She cooked a rotation of 10-12 meals but Kraft ( or homemade ) never made her cut.  As I began teaching myself to cook I played around with making homemade mac and cheese and have perfected it over the past six years.  I would say even BIG KIDS love Mac and Cheese.  This has been is my go to meal for a long time and it's easy to modify to your taste of what you have in the fridge. It's even a good meal if your expecting big eaters. I also use this recipe to bring to friends houses for parties or potlucks and we often enjoy it as a side. Enjoy!

I serve this with a LARGE green salad I say (large) to hopefully counterbalance the calories with the healthy salad.   

Amazing Mac and Cheese with Sausage 

Serves 10 ( trust me it does) 
leftovers keep well for 2 days
prep time - 30 mins
cook time: 40 mins 

Ingredient list: 
1 stick butter
1/2 loaf french bread cubed with crust on
1 tsp garlic powder
6 cups warm milk ( I use 2% but whole works well too )
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 - 2 tsps salt depending on preference
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cayenne pepper ( less or optional for less spice)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
4 cups white cheddar cheese - I use the large black package Tillamook Aged White Cheddar
1 cups Gruyere ( Trader Joe's is where i go) I have left this out if the store does not have Gruyere or its too expensive
1 package grated Pecorino Romano cheese - or Parmesan cheese works too
1 package/box elbow macaroni or spiral pasta
1 lb package pork sausage- cooked and drained ( spice or mild both work )
1 chopped yellow onion

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Set large pasta pot with water and cook pasta to package directions.

2. Pam  your baking dishes, I usually do the following to make smaller dinners for 2-4 people vs 10 as the recipe makes.
Option 1 - 3 - 8x8 or 9x9 dishes
Option 2 - 1 9x13 baking dish and 1 ( 8x8 or 9x9)

3. Melt 2 tbls butter in a microwaveable bowl,  add cubed bread and toss with butter and the 1 tsp of garlic powder .
toss and set aside.

3. Melt the remaining butter in a large dutch oven. When the butter starts to bubble and is fully melted wisk the flour, cook and stir 2-5 mins until the flour forms a thick paste.  In the mean time put your milk ( I use a 4 cup glass mixing cup) and warm in the microwave.

4. While whisking start adding the warm milk about 1/2 cup at a time and whisk until smooth. The mixture should be thick and creamy after about 10 mins of cooking.  After it is thick add in your salt, pepper, nutmeg , cayenne and keep on warm.

 4.  As your sauce rests start cooking your pork sausage - cook and drain off all fat and allow to set on a paper towel to drain.

5. Keeping your pan dirty from the sausage add your chopped yellow onion and cook until translucent

6. By this time your  pasta should be finished, drain and distribute the cooked pasta to buttered pans allowing about 1/4- 1/3 in from the top of the pan.  

7.  Turn your cream sauce off and remove from heat, add in sausage and onion mix. Then add all 4 cups of your grated cheddar cheese and about the Gruyere cheese. Pour cheese/sausage mixture evenly over the prepared dishes with the cooked pasta in them. allow to rest and lightly tap on the country to get the bubbles out and allow mixture to distribute into pasta.

8. You're almost done!!! Revisit your bread topping and place on top of your pasta then finish with your Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.  Put your finished dish into the preheated oven or freeze depending on what  you're doing with each dish.

Cook for 40 mins

Here your finished cooked product is:

**Modified from Martha Stewart: Mac and Cheese **