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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, 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 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 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.

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 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 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 around 5-7 minutes, times may vary slightly.

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Pasta Carbonara

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A perfect match made in heaven, are peas and pancetta. My pasta carbonara highlights those two perfectly. One of this dishes main ingredients is freshly cracked black pepper. From what I understand, many years ago, this dish got it’s name from woodcutters who made charcoal for fuel. Those men would come home dirty and black from a hard days work. Therefor the black pepper in this dish represented just that.

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients:
2 boxes of Gemelli ( or 1 pound of spaghetti)
1 package of thawed frozen peas
1/4 pound of diced pancetta
1 finely diced shallot
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large clove of minced garlic
1/4 cup of dry white wine (optional)
4 whole eggs plus, 1 yolk
2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese ( reserve 1/4 cup back to top serving dishes)
1 pinch of Kosher salt to taste ( handful of Kosher salt for pasta water)
3 tablespoons of fresh finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:
First, place a 6 quart pot on the stove filled with water, and turn the heat up to medium high. This will allow time to prepare the ingredients for the dish while waiting for the water to boil.

Have ready, a whole package of thawed frozen peas in a bowl.

Dice up the pancetta and add it to a large, deep sided, and cold saute pan with olive oil. Do not turn the heat on just yet.

Next, grind up 2 cups of Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Transfer the grated cheese to a bowl and set aside. Note: reserve 1/4 cup back for adding to the top of the served dish.

In another bowl, crack 4 eggs and one egg yolk and beat them together with 1 tablespoon of fresh cracked black pepper. Measure out 1/4 cup of dry white wine, and 1 large garlic clove minced. Once all the ingredients are ready it’s time to make the dish.

Turn the large saute pan with the pancetta and olive oil on to medium heat. Start to render down the pancetta.  Throw a handful of Kosher salt into the pot with the boiling water. Add in the pasta of you choice, giving it a big stir, and follow the cooking time according to the box.

Anywhere from 7-10 minutes the pancetta should be rendered down and crispy. Transfer the pancetta to a plate line with paper towel.  Drain off all but 3 tablespoons the pancetta fat in the pan. If you don’t think you have that much, you can add a little olive oil.

This process goes fairly quickly. Pan still on medium heat, next, add in the minced garlic, diced shallot, and the wine. Using a wooden spoon, and while shallots and garlic are sauteing, scrap up all those delicious pancetta bits that are trapped in the bottom of the pan. Let that liquid bubble up for about a minute until the alcohol has cooked out.

To the pan, using one of those large colander spoons, transfer the pasta into the pan. Next, return the cooked pancetta to the pan. Make sure to coat the all pasta with the pancetta fat, wine and garlic that has remained in the pan. Note: if the pasta seems a little to dry and sticking together, add in a little olive oil to loosen it up.

At this point, add back in the crispy pancetta, along with the peas ( the heat will warm the peas through), and egg mixture. Using tongs, toss all this though, while still over the heat, until eggs are barley set. Turn the heat off, but keep the pan on the burner. Quickly add in the grated Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley. Toss those ingredients through then remove from the hot burner. This dish is best served hot. Don’t forget about adding more cheese to the top of your dish!

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Portobellos And Pappardelle In A Garlic Cream Sauce

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Portobellos, have to be my very favorite mushroom. They have such a meaty flavor and texture. They’re just so delicious. My favorite pasta of course, pappardelle. It only made sense to me that I bring them together.

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Let’s talk about the mushrooms first. I have nine Portobello mushrooms that I’ve cleaned and removed the stems and gills. Then all I did was to slice them about an inch in thickness. I also have some peeled garlic cloves. I take half of the peeled  garlic cloves and grate them into a quart of whole milk that I have on very low heat, on the back burner. I just want to let the milk heat up for 3-4 minutes or so, this way the garlic will infuse into the milk. You don’t want the milk to come to a boil. After 3-4 minutes turn the heat off and let the garlic just steep in the milk.  Back to the mushrooms. I melt 3/4’s of a stick of unsalted butter in a pot with some crushed red pepper flakes. Next I add all the sliced mushroom into the pot.

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While the mushrooms have started to cook down in the butter, I add the other half of the garlic that I’ve minced to reinforce that garlic flavor throughout the dish. The mushrooms need to saute on med to med high heat for about 10-12 minutes until they’ve released all their water and have caramelized nicely. Once they are caramelized this is the time I season the mushrooms with Kosher salt. At this point I add 1/2 a cup of flour to the mushrooms. With a wooden spoon, I stir the flour around in with the mushrooms giving that flour taste to cook out, about a minute or so. Now, for that garlic flavored milk.

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I add the flavored milk to the sauteed mushrooms, still on med heat, I whisk the milk until it starts to thicken. Right as it’s starting to thicken, I add in 1 package of baby spinach. I switch back to a wooden spoon, stirring the spinach through. I add black pepper and  grate some fresh nutmeg into the pot. I always add nutmeg when I’m making a white sauce or, I’m making any type of leafy greens.  Also on the back burner I have a pound of Pappardelle cooking in salted boiling water.

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Now that the sauce has thicken, and the spinach and nutmeg have been stirred through, I turn the heat off before adding in some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Finally the pasta. I cook the pasta to the al dente stage, then add in right into the pot with that garlic flavored, cheesy cream sauce. I always reserve a cup of pasta, starchy cooking liquid to help thin out the sauce if it gets a little too thick.

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To garnish some freshly chopped Italian parsley.

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes
Ingredients:
9 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 cloves of garlic (4 grated and 4 minced
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
3/4’s stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons of freshly grated nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 quart of whole milk
1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 package of Pappardelle pasta (reserve a cup of pasta cooking liquid)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh Italian Parsley

Directions: First clean and slice the mushrooms. Next, prepare the garlic, minced and grated. Place two pots on the back burners, one for the milk, the other for the pasta. To the pot with the milk, on low heat add the minced garlic and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the garlic steep in the milk. On the front burner, on med heat, melt the butter, add the crushed red pepper flakes. Throw in the mushrooms. Let cook until they start to soften and release their water, then add in the minced garlic. Once they are caramelized, 10=12 minutes or so, then add the Kosher salt in. Next add in the flour and stir through so all the mushrooms are coated and the flour has cooked out. Now, it’s time to add the garlic flavored milk in. Change to a whisk and start whisking. Add the grated nutmeg and black pepper in at this time. As the milk sauce starts to thicken, switch to a wooden spoon and add in the spinach. Stir that through until the spinach has wilted. Turn the heat off and add in the Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese. Stir the cheese through and then add in the al dente Pappardelle. Toss everything together and add parsley to garnish.

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Paglia e Fieno

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Better known to us as Straw and Hay, this pasta dish is one for the record books. The spinach mixed in with the standard semolina white colored pasta makes for a beautiful dish.

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What makes this dish so delicious is the crunchy, salty bite of the Prosciutto with the creaminess of the flavorful sauce. Let’s start with the Prosciutto.

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So first I started with rolling up the Prosciutto like a cigar, then slicing it into thin strips. I added 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to a large saute pan. Now I’m not saying this is a low calorie dish, but once and a while, we need to treat ourselves. Just have a smaller portion with a small light salad and enjoy. Anyway I start rendering the Prosciutto down until it becomes nice and crisp and remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon to reserve the flavor in the pan for the onions and garlic.

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Above are the ingredients I’m going to add to the saute pan with the drippings from the Prosciutto and butter. I have 1 large onion, diced, and 3 minced cloves of garlic.

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I add 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes for some heat. On the back burner I have a large pot of salted water boiling waiting for me to drop the pasta in.  After the onions and garlic have softened I add one cup of heavy cream. At this point I like to season the sauce with 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. I then add in 8 ounces of softened Mascarpone cheese to the pan on med low heat, cooking it slowly. Stir this around until the Mascarpone cheese has all melted and is well combined.  The sauce doesn’t take long to thicken, so you have to watch it closely. You don’t want to walk away from the pan. Now I drop the pasta into the water. While the pasta is cooking I finish this sauce.

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At this point in the picture above the sauce has thickened so I toss in some fresh finely chopped Italian parsley and 1-1/2 cup of grated Pecorino cheese. Turn off the heat and stir all this through. Finally I add 1 cup of thawed frozen peas. The sauce will warm the peas through. The pasta is now done, so with a spoon like strainer, I transfer the pasta into the cream sauce. Gently stir the pasta through this creamy cheesy sauce and top with the crunchy Prosciutto. I like to reserve some of the cooked Prosciutto for garnishing the top of each dish. There you have it, Paglia e Fieno, a delicious traditional Italian pasta dish.

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