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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Baked White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage

White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (1)

White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (2)

My friend Kim went on 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.

 

 

 

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (1)

Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 2 6-quart stock pots, 1 large
sauté pan, 1- 4 quart saucepan, 2 disposable deep-sided 9 x 9 casserole pans.
Yields: 2 pans, 6-8 serving per pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Note: Ingredients (are doubled) for two 9 x 9 pans

Ingredients:
2 16-ounce boxes Barilla Cellentani, corkscrew shaped pasta (or elbow macaroni)
3 sticks unsalted butter, reserve 1 stick for topping, plus butter for greasing pans
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts milk
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 grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups of Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter each of the 9 x 9 disposable pans

Into each of the two (6-quart stockpot) pots of boiling salted water, add 1 box of Barilla Cellentani. Cook according to the directions on the package, 6-8 minutes. Drain well into separate colanders.

In the meantime, heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, but don’t boil it. In another (6- quart) stockpot melt 2 sticks of butter, add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add in the hot milk and cook until thickened and smooth. Do not rush this process, times may vary, about 7-10 minutes, the sauce will thicken. Off the heat add all the white cheddar, 3 ounces of grated Parmesan, 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg. Stir to combine.

Divide the Bechamel sauce, equally into the each of the (6 quarts) 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.

Breadcrumb Topping:
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 dried parsley flakes. Stir to combine. Divide evenly, then sprinkle the bread crumbs on evenly on top of each of the pans. Place each of the disposable pans onto a rimmed baking sheet pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and macaroni and topping are a beautiful golden brown.

Tip For Freezing:
Make sure the pan of Mac & Cheese is at room temperature before freezing.
To freeze (one of the pans), DO NOT Add the breadcrumb topping until ready to bake. Cover tightly with foil. Freeze up to 2 months. Remove from the freezer, remove the foil. 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 pre-sprayed foil and bake frozen for 1 hour at 350-degrees F. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown, time may vary slightly, around 5-7 minutes.

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Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

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Perfectly sautéed mushrooms can elevate any dish to the next level. Whether you’re using them as a side dish, or maybe in lasagna, their beef-like texture and earthy flavor make the perfect meat substitute. Here’s a little secret I’m really excited about, my new upcoming video, on how to incorporate sauteed wild mushrooms into a dish that puts a spin on a traditional recipe we all love. www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel

Mushrooms are like little sponges, they absorb flavor really well. The three things that all mushrooms love are butter, garlic, and Thyme. Whether you choose a domestic mushroom, wild mushrooms, or a combination of both, the cooking technique is the same. This is my recipe for the best-sautéed mushrooms EVER!

First, I’m going to my hanging herb garden to grab a few sprigs of Thyme.

Thyme

Thyme is one of those herbs that pairs well with so many dishes. When Thyme matures,  the stems become hardy and wood-like. If that’s the case, you only want to use their leaves. The sprigs on my plant are still green and tender so, as I snip off a few sprigs for this dish, I don’t worry if the stems get chopped up along with their leaves.

If you are not able to find fresh Thyme, dried Thyme is perfectly fine.  I love the minty/lemony flavor of thyme, so I’m using both types for this recipe.

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I’m using a combination of domestic and wild mushrooms for this recipe. Let’s talk about the different varieties I have here.

Oyster Mushrooms

This one in the above picture is the Oyster mushrooms. Whenever using mushrooms, take a damp cloth and clean the outside to remove any dirt that may be on them. To cut an Oyster mushroom, use a sharp knife to carefully cut around the firm central stem and the individual caps will fall away.

Tip: Reserve the stems for adding to the stock. I’m not slicing the caps any smaller because these are a perfect size.

Trumpet Mushrooms

These are the Trumpet mushrooms. I just slice off the tip off the bottom of the stem,  the rest of the mushroom I cut up into 2-inch chunks.

Both the Cremini (baby Portobello mushrooms) and white Button mushrooms I slice the same way, with their stems.

Shitake Mushrooms (2)

With Shitake mushrooms, I remove their tough stems and slice the caps.  Save the stems for stock.

Portobello Mushroms

The Portobello mushrooms, I remove the stems and then using a spoon, clean their gills from underneath the cap, then slicing them, fairly thick

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Now we are ready,  the mushrooms are prepped

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Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: Deep sided sautépan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried Thyme
( about 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms total)
2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 pint of white Button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 pints of Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
5 Oyster mushrooms, cleaned, central stem removed and discarded
6 Trumpet mushrooms, bottom tip removed, then sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 Shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted beef stock, or a good red wine

Directions:
In a large deep sided sautépan (if you don’t have one of these pans, sauté your mushrooms in two batches, about 5 minutes per batch) on medium heat,  add unsalted butter, olive oil, fresh and dried Thyme. When butter has melted, add the mushrooms, tossing and stirring continuously.

As the mushrooms cook they will start to release their water. Add in the minced garlic and black pepper, again, stirring occasionally.  Once all their water has evaporated, there will be mushroom bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock and scrape all those delicious bits up using a wooden spoon. Once the mushrooms have really started to brown, this is when you want to salt the mushrooms. Continue stirring and allow the mushrooms to cook, absorbing the remainder of the beef broth and become tender about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

 

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Lobster Mac And Cheese

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I’m pretty confident in saying, Mac and Cheese is a favorite comfort food for people of all ages. There are so many recipes out there from the classic version to endless variations of the classic. Chorizo and smoked Gouda, or how about butternut squash mac and cheese! The one I like to serve, when entertaining is my Lobster Mac And Cheese. The lobster adds a delicate sweetness, and then complimented by a variety of awesome cheeses that go into my recipe. Let me show you how I make my Lobster Mac And Cheese.

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Equipment:
16 quart stock pot, 9 x 13 casserole dish
yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups of lobster meat, large dice (approx. 3- 1 1/2 lb lobsters)
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
4 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup of corn (optional)
1 cup of Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup of Brie cheese, without the rind
2 cups of shredded Fontina cheese ( reserve 1 cup for the top)
3 tablespoon of freshly finely chopped chives
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped tarragon
2-16 ounce packages of cooked just under al-dente Paccheri Rigati ( large rigatoni shaped pasta)
Topping:
4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
Butter casserole dish.
For 1-1/2 pound lobsters, cook time is 15-20 minutes. Note: They need to be a vibrant red color when fully cooked.

Directions On How To Cook A Lobster:
Note: I prefer to cook lobsters one at a time.
Bring a 16 quart pot (a little over half filled) of well salted water up to a rapid  boil. Drop the lobster into the pot, quickly place the lid on. Using a towel, hold the lid in place for just a minute, giving the water a chance to come back up to a boil,  then start the cooking time. After about 15-20 minutes, remove the lobster from the pot and set aside to cool.

Boil 16 ounces of pasta just before the al dente stage, and drain. the pasta will finish cooking during the baking process.

Remove the lobster meat from the tail and claws. Chop the lobster meat into large chunks and place into a bowl.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Next, to make the cheese sauce, melt the butter whisk in the flour in a large saucepan. Cook for 1 minute over medium, heat. Slowly add in the whole milk. Sprinkle in the grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper, continuously whisking until sauce becomes thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon, finely chopped chives, cheeses, and (optional) corn. Last, add in the cooked lobster meat. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce stirring gently not to break up the pasta. Pour the entire mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the reserved Fontina cheese evenly over the top.

For the crumb topping, add the melted butter to the Panko bread crumbs. Mix in  the Italian flat leaf parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

3 Comments »

Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta

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Here in Florida, we have a local restaurant and bar that serves this dish. Every time we go I always order the Cajun Chicken Pasta. I just love it so much I needed to recreate it at home. I will say that there is some butter that goes into the making of this dish, but that’s part of the reason it’s so delicious. I think once and a while it’s alright to indulge in a rich and decadent dish!

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Ready less than 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: cast iron skillet and a deep sided saute pan.

Ingredients:
4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 boxes of linguine
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
4 seeded and diced plum tomatoes
1 finely minced shallot
3 finely minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup of dry white wine
3 tablespoons of olive oil
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese ( reserve 1/2 cup for garnishing each serving)
Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:
In a cast iron skillet, start by melting butter and olive oil. To the skillet add the finely minced shallot and sliced mushrooms. On medium heat, saute the mushrooms and shallots for about 3-5 minutes. Next, add in the minced garlic, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup of white wine and let this all simmer together until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are brown. This process should take another 7-10 minutes. While the mushrooms are simmering and browning, seed and dice 4 plum tomatoes. Transfer the sauteed mushrooms, shallots and garlic with the diced tomatoes to the bowl and mix together.

Place 4 boneless-skinless chicken breast, that have been patted dry, in a large resealable plastic bag. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika to the bag. Let all the air out of the bag and seal it up. Using your hands, massage the chicken so all the seasoning coats the chicken.

Using the same skillet the mushrooms were cooked in, preheated on the stove on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with 2 tablespoons of butter. Let the butter melt and move the butter and oil around in the skillet to coat the entire bottom. Next, place the 4 seasoned chicken breast into the skillet. Cook the chicken breasts for 5-7 minutes per side until almost tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside for a minute.

In a large pot, start to get the pasta water ready. Turn the pot on med-high heat to bring the water up to a boil. While that’s happening, slice the chicken breast on the bias.

in a deep sided saute pan with a lid, start the sauce for this dish. On medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter ( this may seem like a large amount of butter, but there is a lot of pasta going into this dish. The pasta needs to be well coated) along with 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning and 1 tablespoons sweet paprika. Add 1/2 a cup of low sodium chicken broth. Let this come to a bubble. Reduce the heat to med-low and pour in 1/4 cup of  heavy cream. Whisk the sauce together, then add the sliced chicken into the sauce. Let the sauce and chicken simmer for 10-12 minutes ( enough time to cook the pasta), on med-low heat, while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is al dente,  transfer the linguine to the pan with the chicken, along with 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. Turn the heat off and toss together until all the pasta is coated and the chicken is mixed through.The pasta will immediately start to absorb the sauce. Serve in a pasta bowl and garnishing with fresh Italian flat leaf parsley and another sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese. If the dish is not being served right away, place the lid.

 

 

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