This recipe was part of the Food Fight: Macaroni and Cheese Challenge which ended Feb 29, 2008 04:00 PM. See winners »
Apple Kielbasa Macaroni and Cheddar Recipe
When I asked my friends what they like about macaroni and cheese, a surprising number of people talked about how their moms would put cut up hot dogs in the boxed stuff. Not being a fan of hot dogs or the boxed stuff, I replaced the hot dogs with kielbasa. With the addition of apples and cider, this dish is sweet and savory and hearty and glorious. There’s a lot of chopping but it actually fills up all of the active time if you do it as you go instead of one big mise en place at the beginning.
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 oz white cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup onion, diced small
- 2 sweet apples, cut into small cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1/3 lb smoked kielbasa (about 3/4 of a large link) diced small
- 1 bottle hard cider (12 oz)
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 4 tbls all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tbls unsalted
- salt and pepper
- Start boiling water. Heat oven to 375.
- Grate cheeses if not already shredded. In a large non-stick skillet melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and sweat onions with a large pinch of salt. Avoid coloring them. In the meanwhile, chop apples and then add them to the skillet in one layer.
- Chop kielbasa while stirring the apples every so often. When the apples are softened through and have reduced in size, about 5-7 minutes, add half of the bottle of cider and stir. Reduce for 2-3 minutes on medium-high until most of the liquid has evaporated but there is still about 1/3 cup left.
- Add pasta to the (now) boiling and salted water. You’ll want to cook it about a minute under the recommended time. Pour the apple mixture into a container and set aside. In the same pan add 1 tablespoon butter and the chopped sausage.
- Cook the sausage until some fat has rendered, but don’t brown it. Sprinkle flour over the pan, stir and cook it with the sausage for a minute on medium high heat. Add the rest of the cider all at once while stirring vigorously.
- When there are no lumps add the half and half. Mix well because the cider and sausage roux will be quite thick. Once the sauce is smooth reduce heat to low.
- Drain pasta and return to pot. If the béchamel is too thick, add some milk. Season with salt and pepper and turn off heat. Stir in both cheddars leaving a small handful of each for the top.
- Mix in the apples and add sauce to the pot of pasta. Stir well and dump into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
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