I know, I know. It's the middle of summer. Smokey mac & cheese is probably not topping your list of new recipes to try. But I like to prepare new recipes in all seasons, so I gave this one a try a few weeks ago. It's a great mix of sweet and savory with the addition of green apples. I found it so filling that I served it on its own for dinner- no side dishes necessary!
This recipe was originally printed in Family Circle magazine and I copied it exactly.
CHEDDAR-APPLE SAUSAGE MAC (serves 8)
1 lb rigatoni
12 oz sweet apple-chicken sausage, sliced
3 T unsalted butter
2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
1/2 small sweet onion, sliced
1/8 t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 T flour
1.5 c milk
1 T dijon mustard
3 c shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, returning to pot. Cook sliced sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, until browned. Remove and keep warm on a plate. In the same skillet, melt 1 T butter and add apples and onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add sausage, apples, onion, salt and pepper to the pasta and stir to combine.
Melt remaining 2 T butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute to form a roux. Pour in milk and mustard and bring to a simmer. Cook 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese, a little at a time. Add to pasta mixture in pot.
Pour pasta mixture into a large, greased baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes. Set oven to broil and leave for 3 more minutes, until lightly browned.
**NOTE: I felt that I could have added another half a pack of sausage and the dish would have been even better. Just a thought!