What child doesn't love mac and cheese?! I have to admit, I always have the boxed stuff in the house, so if we have a lunch emergency there's always something to feed the kids! However, it's always nice and really easy to make homemade mac and cheese. Of course I'm always looking for new mac and cheese recipes to try. I liked this one because it incorporated the apple sausage. My kids are big sausage eaters, so I thought by incorporating the two they'd be fans. Well, I was right about one of them! My son decided to take one bite of pasta and decided that he didn't like it. My daughter on the other hand ate all of hers and took some for lunch the next day. This did require a bit of preparation and then had to bake for 25-30 minutes. If you have the extra time it can be a weeknight meal. Otherwise, depending on the size of your family, if you make this on a weekend you may have enough for leftovers for another night (or in our case, for lunches!).
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, September 2011
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 pound pasta (I used wheel-shaped)
1/2 cup diced onion
6 ounces chicken-apple sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons mustard
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups apple juice
1 pound marbled cheddar & monterey jack cheese, shredded (4 cups)
1/2 cup sour cream
35 small butter crackers (1 sleeve Ritz), crushed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2 1/2 -quart baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes (check package directions). Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage, mustard, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the sausage is golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the apple juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 8 more minutes.
Slowly stir about three-quarters each of the monterey jack and cheddar cheese into the sauce until smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the pasta and sour cream. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the crushed crackers and the remaining cheese. Bake until bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.