Monday, February 21, 2011

Homemade Mac & Cheese with Smoked Sausage

Friday I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. I kind of felt like cheesy pasta and I knew I needed to include meat SOMEHOW or my husband wouldn't know what to do with himself. I had some Eckrich Smoked Sausage in my freezer and I was googling pasta recipes to use with it when I decided a homemade mac and cheese would be delicious with the added sausage. I went to allrecipes and looked over their mac and cheese recipes because I'm still not sold on any one homemade mac and cheese recipe and used this one as a base for what I was about to make.

• 16 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
• 1 pound Eckrich Sausage
• 2 cups shredded Mild Cheddar cheese
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 3 cups milk
• 1/4 cup butter
• 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• Crushed ritz crackers
• paprika
• Onion powder
• Garlic powder
• Salt and pepper

First, I preheated the oven to 350 and cooked the pasta as directed.

I cut up the sausage and removed most of the skin from it. Then I followed the directions on the sausage package and cooked it in a covered pan for about 8 minutes in 2/3 cup water.

Meanwhile, I was working on the sauce. In a saucepan, I melted the butter and then added in the flour. Stirred it really well and slowly added in the 3 cups of milk. Make sure the heat is on medium heat or it will take FOREVER to warm up. I made the mistake of lowering the temp after I melted the butter and it was driving me crazy waiting on the milk to warm up enough to melt the cheese. Speaking of the cheese... After I stirred in the milk I slowly stirred in the cheese, one cup at a time. Then I added salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika to the mix.

Then in a greased casserole pan I poured in the noodles and the sausage and mixed it up. After the mixture thickened up I stirred it in with the noodles and sausage. Then on top I crushed Ritz Crackers to form a bread crumb layer and sprinkled more cheese and some paprika on top. Then I threw it in the oven for 25 minutes and when I pulled it out it looked like this.

Verdict? It was delicious!!!!!! Very very yummy and gave us lots of leftovers. I really liked how creamy it was. Definitely would try to use different cheeses next time, but of course I just used what I had as per usual. Sharp cheddar would probably be delicious in it. Very very yummy!

What kinds of cheese do you like to put in homemade mac and cheese?