Friday, January 22, 2016

Fragrant Mac and Cheese

This week I haven't even tried to meal plan - lots of different things going on combine with last weeks failure on meal planning ensured that I had lots of ideas left over for this week ;) (or at least that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

Last night we had the usual debate about what to make for supper (I think I'm starting to come down with a cold - so I wasn't  too enthused to go cook).  I had picked up cheddar smokies when grocery shopping because someone complained mentioned they haven't had sausages in a while so I was determined to use them. However, husband wasn't necessarily in the mood for sausages and made a specific request for Mac and Cheese (not the box kind).  Usually when I have done my Mac and Cheese I have added Candied Bacon into the mix (Monkey's favourite) but Justin has often mentioned I could just add sausage so I figured why not kill two birds with one stone.  I have a basic recipe that is wonderful to work off of - but since this was going to be made with the cheddar smokies instead of bacon I figured I wanted to try and spice things up or change up the recipe a bit.  Since I have been working with a lot of typical Indian species lately I figured I would try out that combination (worst comes to worst I'd pull out some tomato sauce and we'd have shells with tomato sauce and sausages on the side.)

Anyways I added some of the extra spices into the mix and it smelled amazing (yes I am bragging) but as the sauce began to cook the flavours developed even more and I may or may not have tested several spoons of the cheese sauce before adding it to the shells and baking the dish.  The only downside is that the entire things takes about an hour to make (including the 30 minutes of baking time - but frankly it took me that long to do the dishes so the husband sees it as a win-win lol).

Here is the recipe: (the basic recipe is below, I have cross out the parts I omitted and the items in italics are the add ons for the fragrant Mac and Cheese - so if you want to use the basic recipe skip the items it italics) (Basic recipe is from Alton Brown on the website).

Fragrant Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used probably closer to 10 oz of shells)
4 cheddar filled sausages 3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp powder mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove minced 1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin1/2 tsp smoked crushed coriander seed 1/2 tsp garam masala1/2 tsp turmeric 1 egg for some reason I always skip this step)
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (I honestly used just a three cheese blend that I had on hand)
2-4 ounces of gruyere cheese (just happened to have part of a block left in the fridge)2 tbsp or large spoon full of goat cheese (again on hand)Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
3 tbsp butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs  
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray the bottom of a oven safe cooking dish. Put the sausages in the dish and into the oven - I left them in until I was ready to add the cheese to my sauce or about how it takes for the sausages to start to split. Because I was using fully cooked I wasn't too concerned but I did want some nice brown bits on the sausages. 
  3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. (remember to use low heat for this I haven't before and I've ended up with Brown butter - great for other things not so great for mac and cheese).
  5. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. I added the cumin, coriander, garam masala and turmeric here. After a few minutes I also added the onion and garlic to get it cooked really well for husband (and I really finely dice the onion - almost a mince).
  6. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
  7. Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4  ALL of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish (NOTE it is REALLY important to spray the casserole dish before putting the mix into the dish or leave the cleaning up to your partner either way - just be prepared for complaints from the cleaning staff partner if you don't spray the dish ;) . Top with remaining cheese.
  8. Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the bread crumbs to the pan and coat with the butter. (I always season my bread crumbs with salt and pepper, sometimes a little garlic salt - taste them as they are toasting in the pan to make sure they are tasty).  Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

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