Friday, November 30, 2012

Mac and Cheese Teet's Style

In our house, "Mac and Cheese" is a snow day comfort food treat. But when I decided to participate in the Teet's Challenge, I knew immediately that I would have to make Mac and Cheese with one of their delightful smoked pork products. I opened the package of Garlic Pure Pork Smoked Sausage and inhaled deeply. I immediately started thinking about what cheeses would pair nicely with this amazing and tasty sausage. Something extra sharp and something extra creamy was my first thought. I headed out to the cheese shop to begin my cheesy journey. This trip resulted in a grass-fed sharp cheddar and a fontal. While there are varying opinions about which macaroni product is best suited for Mac and Cheese, my personal preference is cavatappi. It is curly with ridges and really holds onto the sauce. The finished product was just as delightful as I had imagined! 

Mac and Cheese Teet's Style
by Susan Ritchie

16 ounces De Cecco cavatappi pasta
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces Teet's Smoked Garlic Pork Sausage, casing removed, sliced 1/2 inch thick, then quartered.
6 Tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the casserole dish
1/3 cup diced shallot (small dice)
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (I prefer whole wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
4 cups whole milk, close to room temperature
10 ounces shredded fontal cheese
6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
(1/2 cup of combined shredded cheeses reserved for breadcrumb topping)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Prepare the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Shred the cheeses together, reserving 1/2 cup for the topping. Grease a 9 x13 casserole with butter. In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, add the Teet's Garlic Pure Pork Sausage and sauté to release some of the smokey fat goodness. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve. Increase the heat to medium and add the butter. Once melted, add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Add the dry mustard and freshly cracked pepper. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and add the cheeses, whisking until completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Add salt to taste. (Since I was using a smoked pork product, I opted to pass on adding additional salt.) Add the sausage back to the pot along with the prepared pasta. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole.

For the Topping:
6 slices of day old bread (I used Martin's whole wheat potato bread)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup reserved shredded cheese
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400° with the rack in the middle slot. In a food processor, pulse the bread slices until they are very coarse crumbs. Add the butter, reserved cheese, cayenne, and salt. Pulse until combined. Pour the bread crumb topping over the macand cheese, spreading it evenly. Bake until the mac and cheese is bubbly and the topping is a nice golden-brown color, about 20-25 minutes. Allow the mac and cheese to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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