My friend Kim went home for a week to visit her parents. I knew she’d be celebrating her birthday while she was gone so I thought I’d have something special waiting for her when she returned home. You know after traveling you’re always tired once you get home, no one really wants to cook. I thought, how about a Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage waiting for her at home. All she’d have to do is to follow the reheating instructions that I attached to the pan. Happy Birthday, Kim!
You know, it’s just as easy to make two pans of Mac and Cheese as it is to make one. One for her family and one for ours. This recipe will yield two 9 x 9 pans of Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 16 servings (6 to 8 serving per pan)
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 2 (6-quart) stockpots, 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, 1 (3-quart) saucepan, 2 disposable deep-sided (9 x 9) casserole pans, chef’s knife
Note: Ingredients below are doubled to yield 2 (9 x 9) disposable pans
2 (16-ounce) boxes Barilla Cellentani, corkscrew-shaped pasta (or elbow macaroni)
3 sticks of butter, unsalted (reserve 1 stick for topping, plus butter for greasing pans)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts whole milk
1 teaspoon of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 cups of diced smoked sausage sliced and quartered, 3 cups for each pan
2 (8-ounce) packages, extra-sharp white cheddar, shredded
6-ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated and divided
3 cups of Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, reserve 1/4 cup for Panko
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter 2 (9 x 9) disposable pans.
Into each one of the two (6-quart stockpots) pots of boiling salted water, add 1 box of Barilla Cellentani. Cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well into separate colanders.
In the meantime, heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, just under the boiling point. In another (6-quart) stockpot melt 2 sticks of butter, add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, continuously whisking. While whisking, slowly add in the hot milk, then 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg. Switch to a wooden spoon, continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Do not rush this process, cooking times may vary, anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes. Once the sauce coats the back of a spoon remove the pot from the heat. Add all the white cheddar and the 3-ounces of grated Parmesan. Stir to combine.
Divide the bechamel sauce, equally into each of the (6-quart) stockpots. Divide equally the diced smoked sausage into each pot. Add one colander of the cooked, well-drained pasta into each pot. Stir to combine then transfer to the buttered disposable pans.
Melt the remaining 1 stick of butter into a large sauté pan, on low heat, add the Panko crumbs, stir until all the butter is absorbed. Off the heat, add the remaining grated Parmesan cheese, and Italian flat-leaf parsley. Stir to combine. Divide evenly, then sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on top of each of the pans. Place each of the disposable pans onto a rimmed baking sheet pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and macaroni and topping are a beautiful golden brown.
Tip For Freezing:
Make sure the pan of Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage is at room temperature before freezing.
If you plan to freeze one of the pans, DO NOT ADD the breadcrumb topping until you’re ready to bake. Cover the pan tightly with foil then wrap the whole pan again in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 2 months.
When you’re ready to bake, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Add the breadcrumb topping. Spray the dull side of a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray. This will prevent the topping from sticking to the foil. Cover the dish tightly with the sprayed foil and bake frozen for 1 hour at 350-degrees F. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown, around 5 to 7 minutes. Times may vary slightly.
There you have it, my Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage.