I saw this over at Stacie's
blog...it's a Mac n'Cheese Off!
I've only recently discovered the joy of making your own mac n'cheese from scratch. I usually make up a batch for Sunday supper (and Monday's dinner of leftovers!) every other Sunday.
Somewhere along the line I decided to fortify it with kielbasa. Maybe it's my Polish roots or affinity for dogs named Cinco that drew me to the kielbasa add-in.
We had some leftover frozen peas from our anniversary dinner so I tossed those in to. This is the beauty of mac n'cheese: you can eat it plain or you can add whatever your heart desires to it. I've even been known to make it with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and salsa.
For the batch you see above I followed my Cooking Messiah, Betty Crocker's, recipe.
You take 1/2 (or a whole) kielbasa cut into "coins" and then in half and brown them in a skillet. For this recipe I used a lower fat turkey kielbasa (shhh!! Don't tell Dr. Mad Scientist! Shit, it was cheaper than the normal fatty stuff). If you chose to go with a lower fat kielbasa I recommend drizzling a little olive oil or veggie oil in the pan to give the 'basa a good carmelization.
After you brown the kielbasa, start up your pasta. I used about 1/2 a pound of wagonwheel pasta for this batch. Chunky likes to pick out the pasta shapes, and wagonwheels hold the cheese sauce very well.
Be sure not to cook the pasta completely. You'll be baking the mac n'cheese so it's best to keep it al dente--it will absorb more moisture and finish cooking in the oven.
While the pasta is cooking, it's time to prepare the roux and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Melt 1/4 cup of butter (or cheapass 79 cent margarine in my case) and 1/2 a cup of finely cut onions (optional) in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Once the butter is melted and the onions are browned, add 1/4 cup of flour.
Stir! Stir! Stir!! The mixture will seem like nothing in the pot now and appear quite lumpy, but keep stirring. The secret to a good roux is that you NEVER STOP STIRRING.
Once the flour/butter mixture becomes bubbly, remove it from the heat and add 1 and 3/4 cups of milk (I'll bet if you used whole it would taste decadent, but I used skim).
Return to the heat and STIR! Don't stop stirring!
This is where you have to be patient. It will take about 10 or more minutes of non-stop stirring before the mixture starts to thicken.
You have to gently coax the roux with your constant stirring to thicken like you have to coax a five legged dog named Cinco to come home for dinner with a t-bone steak. (Sorry, I had to include some stupid reference to that dumb dog just to make sure you were still reading this far).
After the roux starts to boil, set your timer for one minute (or if you can't reach your timer because you're NEVER GOING TO STOP STIRRING, count to sixty--one hippopotomi, two hippopotomi, three hippopotomi...).
Once the minute has expired or you're potomied out, remove the pan from the heat and add 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. I normally just add two (or sometimes three--it's CHEESE people!) handfulls of cheese into the mixture. You can really use any type of cheese that strikes your fancy. I dig the mild mellow taste that colby and monterrey jack give the final mac n'cheese.
Stir until the cheese is melted.
Now fold in the kielbasa, pasta, and any other add-ins that strike your fancy.
Fold until everything is coated with cheese, glorious cheese!
Dump the mixture into a 9"x9" pan (no need to grease it). You can top it now with MORE cheese, or breadcrumbs, or hell, both!
Pop the pan into the oven heated for 30 minutes and then you're done.
Speaking of cheese, Dr. Mad Scientist has a phone interview with a tox lab in Milwaukee today. Cross your various appendages for us! He did really well on the phone interview with Mt. Sinai Hospital earlier this week so we'll see how this one goes.
Watch, with our luck he'll be offered both and have to choose. Do we go with the less harried life of Wisconsin and the chance for him to stay in the field of toxicology? Or the more busy life of NYC and the prestige of working at Mt. Sinai?
But I've probably jinxed the hell out of both by mentioning them.
And finally! I'd like to send a cheesy hug and kiss to Roxy
for sending me a Random Act of Weirdness! She mailed me these ginormous eyewear advertisements (she's a GM at an eyewear store--not a klepto for store ads)! THREE! Too freakin' cool! I've been plotting as I shower what I'm going to do with them. Hee hee! Stay tuned, I'm sure it will be something nuts!