Friday, January 05, 2007

Say Cheese!

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.

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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!

22 Comments:

Blogger Zonda said...

hehe! Me mouth is watering!! You are the bestest way to start the day!!

oops...off to do some work...darn..

bye!

8:17 AM  
Blogger Poops said...

You know, Wisconsin is the land of cheese. I'm just saying. I thought I'd lived until I ate a deep fried cheese curd dipped in (you guessed it) cheese sauce. My life began that day in Green Bay. (As a Packers fan, it's also the holy land for me.)

Mmmmm, cheese. Glorious cheese!

8:49 AM  
Blogger janna said...

Good luck to Dr. M.S.! And I vote for Wisconsin and toxicology.

I love homemade mac'n'cheese.....

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wisconsin! Wisconsin! Yay!

Raising kids in NYC is too hard.

When I make a roux, I add the milk a bit at a time, stirring, stirring. Then I don't have to work in the lumps and smooth them out and it cooks down with less liquid at a time.

Wisconsin is not only the land of cheese, but also the land of cheap sausages. We have about 30 feet of sausage offerings in my supermarket! Kielbasa, bratwurst, you name it.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Yum! A basa girl! HA! I grew up on that stuff. I have my grandma's recipe for homemade kielbasa and NO, I never made it. She didn't like all the fat & "junk" the butcher, yes, butcher put in his. Everything including my eyes are crossed for you guys!

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok! I vote for Wisconsin. They do have the cheese there and also is in that middle time zone! Only 3 hours ahead of us! Makes it a lot easier to call and talk to Chunkie. Well we like to talk to you and the MS also but we do that on the computer. A note on your mitties that you sent me...they helped keep my hands nice and toasty yesterday when I had to walk the mile to work. Yes, it is again below zero up here. But on the good side the snow has stopped for a while! Love, Mom

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wisconsin= cheese and SNOW!! I have been jonesing for snow. It os raining today and is about 60 effing degrees. Just imagine all the snow we'd have!! Sheesh... Good luck Dr. MS!!

I make my cheesey potatoes much the same as your mac n cheese. It really is simple to make. You know, I happen to have some keilbasa in the fridge....

1:52 PM  
Blogger helen said...

come to milwaukee! i live 1.5 hours away and will gladly come entertain. and i bet we could meet up with elizabeth. you'd be in the middle! woot woot

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YAY CHEESE!! Hey, Milwaukee is not to far! Maybe I can stalk you in real life! Aaaa! Good luck and I have 'em all crossed!

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? You would even consider NYC?

See, I won't be able to get my dream job at L.L. Bean at first, so I'll have to settle for writing about Lands' End's All Weather Mocs in WISCONSIN. And then we can eat cheese and cheap sausage while listening to "A Prairie Home Companion" at each other's houses (we'll alternate each week).

-T.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks rich! Betty Crocker is your cooking idol, huh? I don't know, I like Julia Child. She starts out with a bottle of booze and then drinks and cooks her way through it. At the end of her show, she's somewhat... shnockered. It's fun to watch.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

YUM! You made that macaroni look so good! Sausage makes macaroni so much better. I love the idea of peas, too bad my bf hates them.

I pick Wisconsin. I have a co-worker from there and have seen pics of how beautiful it is. Plus, they get tons of snow. It seems more family-oriented to me as well!

6:44 PM  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

I have been in search of the perfect mac n cheese recipe forever!

Good luck to Dr. Mad S on the job interviews!! If was just me as an old spinster, I'd go to NYC in a NY minute but if I had kids, I'd probably lean towards Wisconsin even tho I have no idea how to survive in the snow. Hope to hear good news soon!

7:03 PM  
Blogger LadyLungDoc said...

Try adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan to the cheese mixture; when I worked in a hospital kitchen, they made the best mac and cheese I have ever had, and apparently that was the secret ingredient.

Both places get snow!

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh . . . I am DEFINITELY using that. I've always wanted to know how to make "real" mac & cheese. Thanks!

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to give living in the City a shot, but not with a kid. The cost of living would be so high. It would be too cold for me anyhow.

Wisconsin is just beautiful! I love the state. Wouldn't want to live there because of the extreme cold, but you love cold.

Good luck to Dr. MS. I hope y'all have the wonderful luck of having to choose. Having more than one choice is a good thing.

:-)

5:44 AM  
Blogger turtlegirl76 said...

All that cheese and stirring makes this lactose intolerant turtle's head hurt. And stomach. But boy does it sound good!

9:08 AM  
Blogger Sssarahevt said...

I love homemade mac n' cheez, growing up we called it yankee doodle noodles...go figure. And yeay, GOOD LUCK Dr. MS, sounds like we're ALL pulling for you guys to be happy and together!

10:05 AM  
Blogger sgeddes said...

mmm...sounds really good. I'm going to try your recipie.

I've been pushing the "light" kielbasa off for years! As long as he doesn't see the package he'll never know.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job vibes to you!

Hey, if you go to NYC I'm just a quickie train ride away! (well, for now).

11:05 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

That sounds good. My only experience with mc is from compulsory catered accommodation at university - where everything tasted of ketchup because you had to coat it in the stuff to make it edible. I'd eat yours though.

3:53 PM  
Blogger weezalana said...

The flexibility of mac and cheese reminds me of a radio interview I once heard with John Cusack - he said he was such a sandwich aficionado, he could actually make one without bread and without meat! ;)

3:20 PM  

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