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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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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (3)

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese With Smoked Sausage (1)

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, 12-inch sauté pan, 1 (3-quart) saucepan, 2 disposable deep-sided (9 x 9) casserole pans.

Note: Ingredients below are doubled to yield 2 (9 x 9) disposable pans

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter each of the 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 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 Italian flat-leaf parsley. 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 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.

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Slow Cooker Pot Roast Over White Cheddar Polenta

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It’s “TV binge” time!  I really need to get caught up on some of my programs. I’m thinking, the answer to accomplishing dinner today is the Crock-Pot. Dinner can be cooking all the while I’m finishing up this season of The Walking Dead. I’m starting my Slow Cooker Pot Roast Over White Cheddar Polenta at 8:00 am, so I’ll have the whole day free! I

I’m starting out with a sirloin tip roast that’s about 4 1/2 pounds. The marbling is great, which means a lot of flavors, and the butcher has tied it up so it holds its shape for even cooking.

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours (high setting)
Total Time: 7 hours 15 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 7-quart Crockpot, 12-inch cast-iron skillet, 6-quart saucepot

Ingredients:
4 1/2 pound sirloin tip roast, tied and room temperature
2 tablespoons of Canola oil
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 (15-ounce) can of diced tomatoes (reduced sodium/sodium-free)
1 cup of red onions, 2-inch dice
1/2 cup celery, 2-inch dice
1/2 cup of organic leafy-top carrots, peeled, 2-inch dice
1/2 cup of mini red bell peppers, seeded dice, 2-inch dice (substitute red bell pepper)
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 (15-ounce) can of beef consommé, use only half
1/4 cup beef broth, unsalted
Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Ingredients For Polenta:
1 1/2 cups of quick-cooking polenta
2 cups of half and half
3 cups of water
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) of butter, unsalted
1 1/2 cups of white cheddar, freshly grated
2 tablespoons of fresh chives, minced

Directions:
The first step is to season the roast with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper on both sides. Take a sheet of paper towel, add 2 tablespoons of Canola oil. Using the oil-dampened paper towel and wipe down the bottom and sides of the cast iron skillet.

Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Let the skillet get super hot, almost smoking. Place the seasoned roast into the pan, leave it alone, to do its thing. Sear the roast for 4 to 5 minutes, using your tongs, if the roast releases itself easily, then turn the meat over and sear the other side for another 3 to 5 minutes. If the roast gives you some resistance, then let it sear for another minute. Next, do the same to the other side. The searing time may vary slightly, maybe, anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes, total, for both sides.

Transfer the roast to the Crockpot. Next, is to retrieve the bits from the bottom of the skillet. This is where all the flavor is and you don’t want to waste any of it. With the pan still over medium-high heat, add in a 1/4 cup of low sodium beef broth. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the bits with the back of the spoon. Once all the bits have come loose, turn the heat off. Pour this flavorful liquid over the roast.

To the slow cooker, with the roast, add the diced vegetables, garlic cloves, Worcestershire sauce, diced tomatoes with their juice, beef consommé, and fresh sprigs of rosemary. Season with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place the lid on and cook on high for 7 hours.

After the 7 hours, remove the roast carefully. Cut the cooking twine, and using two forks, shred the meat. Place the shredded pot roast back into the crockpot and stir everything together. Set the crockpot to warm and place the lid back on.

Next, the white cheddar polenta with chives. Polenta cooks really quickly. This is why it should be made right before you’re ready to serve. It’s super simple and fast. Once the liquid is boiling, it’s finished in 5 minutes. Make sure to have the cheese shredded and ready to go.

In a large saucepot over medium-high heat add half-and-half, water, Kosher salt fresh ground black pepper. Bring the liquid up to a hard boil and slowly whisk in the Polenta. Continue whisking vigorously until the polenta thickens. Immediately, remove the pot from the heat. Change to a wooden spoon, add the butter. Mix until completely combined. Add the shredded white cheddar and fresh chives, stir to combine.

Spoon a good helping of the white cheddar polenta into the bottom of a porcelain serving bowl. Top with my delicious, flavorful, and tender, pot roast. Don’t forget, ladle some of the juices from the slow cooker over the top of the meat and polenta. YUM!!!

This is my Slow Cooker Pot Roast Over White Cheddar Polenta.

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Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs In A Red Wine Reduction Over White Cheddar Polenta

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This has to be one of the coldest days we’ve had in Orlando in a really long time, so I needed to bring out the big guns for dinner tonight. Steve’s been working on roofs all day and I know he’d want a comforting dish to warm him up. I went to our local Farmers’ Market and decided on short ribs. They offer boneless short ribs which I’ve never seen available anywhere else.

The name of my dish, Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs In A Red Wine Reduction Over White Cheddar Polenta sounds super fancy but really it’s not.

I should tell you that our local Farmers’ Market is called Freshfields Farm. I posted a link at the bottom of this post.

I definitely needed good white cheddar for my grits, and Freshfields Farm also offers a variety of cheeses, so this worked out perfectly.

I’m asked a lot what the difference is between grits and polenta. I’ve always known polenta to be used in Italian cuisine and grits always being a staple in southern cuisine and this is true but the real difference is in the corn.

While polenta is made from ground yellow corn, grits are made from white corn (also known as hominy). The most notable difference between the two is in the texture: polenta is much coarser, whereas grits are finer.

Next, I was onto the produce-side of Freshfields Farm to check out the root vegetables available for my dish tonight. I found a beautiful butternut squash and some leaf top carrots. Those are going to be perfect for my Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time For Short Ribs: 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hours
Cooking Time For Grits: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment, 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven with a lid, 1 (6-quart) saucepot, 1 (10-cup) food processor, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 1 (9 x 11) baking dish

Ingredients
3 pounds of boneless short ribs
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 (12-ounce) jar of roasted Piquillo peppers, puréed
1 onion, diced, 2-inch dice
2 cups of carrots, 2-inch dice
4 cups of butternut squash, peeled and seeded, 2-inch dice
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of Cabernet Sauvignon
3 1/2 cup of beef stock, unsalted
1 (14.5-ounce) can of beef consommé
*slurry
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, extra for garnish

Ingredients For Polenta:
1 cup of instant polenta
3 cups of water
1 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups of white cheddar, freshly grated (reserve 1/2 a cup for the topping)

Directions:
Preheat
oven to 450-degrees F.
Start by prepping all the vegetables. You want them all to be approximately the same size so they cook evenly. Butternut squash, carrots, onions, and minced garlic, and the purèed Piquillo peppers. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the short ribs, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper. Mix to combine. Arrange the marinated short ribs, in one layer, spread out, onto two baking sheets. Roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through the roasting process, flip the short ribs to get a good caramelization on both sides.

Note: Oven temperatures may vary slightly. The roasting time for the short ribs is approximate.

In a preheated Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions, and carrots. Season with 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, stirring occasionally, cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the diced butternut squash minced garlic, and tomato paste.

Continue cooking adding the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, stirring occasionally for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Note: It’s important to season each layer as you go.

Once the vegetables start to soften, add the purèed Piquillo peppers, stir to combine. Add the red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary, and Italian flat-leaf parsley, stir to combine.

For the liquids, first, add the Cabernet Sauvignon to *deglaze the pot. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pot. After the wine reduces, by half, approx. 2 to 3 minutes, add the beef consommé and beef stock.

Adjust oven temperature to 325-degrees F.
Remove the short ribs from the oven, add the ribs with their juices to the pot, gently stir to combine. Bring everything back up to a boil, cover, turn the heat off, and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hours or until the meat is fork-tender.

Adjust oven temperature to 350-degrees F.
Remove the pot from the oven, carefully transfer the short ribs to a dish. Turn heat to medium-high add the premade *slurry to the pot, stir to combine. Bring the sauce back up to a boil, stirring occasionally, cook until the sauce thickens. Turn the heat down to the lowest temperature (warm), carefully add the short ribs back into the pot. Cover to keep hot.

Tip: Spray the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray before covering the grits. The will prevent the cheese on top from sticking to the foil.

Directions For the White Cheddar Polenta:
In a large saucepot, add heavy cream and water. Bring up to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Using a whisk, slowly whisk in the cornmeal. As soon as the liquid is completely absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the butter. Switch to a wooden spoon, stir until butter is incorporated. Next, add the grated white cheddar, stir to combine.

In a 9 x 11 buttered baking dish, add the prepared polenta. spread out evenly into the buttered casserole dish. sprinkle with the reserved white cheddar evenly over the top. Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until polenta is hot and bubbly.

To Serve: Spoon the White Cheddar Polenta in the bottom of a serving bowl. Ladle a good helping of my Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs In A Red Wine Reduction on top. Garnish with Italian flat-leaf parsley. Serve hot.

*deglaze: To dilute meat sediments (in a pan) to make a gravy or sauce, typically using wine.

*slurry:  For each cup of liquid, you want to thicken, start with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl. Add an equal amount of cold liquid (water) and stir until smooth paste forms. Whisk the slurry into the hot simmering liquid you want to thicken.

Freshfields Farm

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