When I was five years old my favorite food was macaroni and cheese.
Seriously, I could eat this stuff every day. But it IS nice to change up the elbows and cheddar routine. And one of my favorite ways to do that is with Gouda.
As you’ll see, I also incorporated sausage into this. You could do that in a variety of ways, but I chose to fry the sausage and cut it into half-slices. You could also remove the casing and crumble it into the pan to cook, if you think you’d prefer that.
I also added half a sweet onion for flavor. As you can tell from the photos, I removed most of the onion before adding the sausage pieces to the macaroni because they’d become a little too dark for my taste. I didn’t want the taste of the burnt onion pieces in my final dish, but cooking the sausage with the onions gave it a nice depth of flavor.
This recipe also calls for a basic roux. Butter, flour, milk, cheese: voila.
And pepper. Gotta have my spice.
Also, I used Corkscrew pasta. I like to change up the shapes of pasta sometimes, but keep in mind that when using a different shape of pasta than what the recipe calls for, you may need to adjust the amount.
You could easily use regular breadcrumbs, but I like using Panko sometimes. I used it here.
If you’re not going to bake it right away, wait to add the breadcrumbs until just before baking. Sometimes I put a little bit of my mac mixture into a small ramekin or two to keep in the fridge to bake another day.
And, if your breadcrumbs don’t brown as much as you’d like by the time the sauce is bubbling nicely, then just broil it for a couple minutes.
As you can see from my photo, the Panko don’t brown as quickly or evenly as regular breadcrumbs. But they’re still toasty, even the parts still light in color, so it still adds a nice crunch to the dish.
So, here’s the path to yumminess:
Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese
2 cups corkscrew pasta
2 to 4 sausage links
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 Tbs olive oil
5 Tbs butter, separated
3 Tbs flour
2 tsp pepper
3 cups whole milk
2 cups (8 oz.) apple smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onion and sausage and cook until onions are translucent and sausage is at least mostly cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and slice into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices, and cut the slices in half. Return sausage to pan, adding extra olive oil if the pan is too dry, and cook until the pieces are well-browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels, removing any onions that have become too dark (or all of them if you only want the flavor of them in the meat).
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions. Also, in a small dish, melt the 2 Tbs butter and mix the panko into it. Set panko aside.
Melt 3 Tbs butter in a saucepot. Sprinkle flour over it and stir well to create a roux. Add pepper and stir for a minute to lessen the taste of the flour. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Return to heat and cook at medium high, stirring frequently, until just starting to boil. As soon as it starts to bubble, turn heat to low and stir in cheese. Stir until cheese is fully incorporated.
Stir the cooked pasta and sausage into the cheese sauce. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle the panko over the top.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes more, or until sauce begins to bubble. If desired, you can broil it for 2 minutes to achieve a well-browned crust on the breadcrumb topping.
(Note: Dish can be stored in the fridge or freezer before baking. Let sit at room temp at least 30 mins from fridge before baking and add 10 mins to baking time. Do not add panko until ready to bake.)
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