Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Apple Sauce Mac & Cheese with Apple Sausage



The weather here has been very back and forth lately. It was in the 80's this past weekend, with hail a few days before that, and today it's in the 50's and raining again. But I don't mind the weird weather so much because the brief high temperature managed to convince the tree in my backyard that it's spring, so it has now exploded with blossoms. The only unfortunate part is that the flowers don't smell very good, and by that I mean they smell like breaded fish. It is a really strange smell, I'm not totally sure what kind of tree it is, the leaves look kind of like an Ash tree but I am not positive. Anybody know of any bad-smelling flowering trees? I should probably just get a dwarf apple tree and let them battle each other with opposing scents, but I think it's too early in the season for transplanting apple trees, anywho.

If only everything that smelled this terrible looked so beautiful.

But enough about stinky trees, let's talk about some good ol' mac and cheese (notice I could have said stinky cheese, but resisted. Giving myself a pat on the back for that one.) I had an order of apple and sausage mac and cheese at a German (Bavarian, to be precise) restaurant near my university about 5 years ago, and couldn't get over how delicious it was. I only ever had it twice, though, because it was a very pricey restaurant and I, a lowly college student, was mostly sustaining myself on ramen and trader joe's frozen Indian food to save money. But both times I was able to eat that mac and cheese it was consistently AMAZING, so much so that the flavor combination seared itself into my brain.


The cold weather we were having up until this weekend set me into hot-cheesy mode, and I remembered how much I loved that dish and decided to try and recreate it here. I used this recipe from Ina Garten (she is the best) as the base for the mac and cheese, but altered it a bit to accommodate the addition of apple sauce and apple sausage, and omitted the tomatoes. The result was a salty, creamy, spiced, and slightly sweet hot mess of deliciousness. Super comforting, super rich, and super not healthy, it makes the winter months much more bearable.



Ingredients:

1 lb Conchiglie Pasta, or other elbow macaroni
3/4 lb Pork, Turkey, or Chicken Apple Sausage, removed from casings
3 and 1/3 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
12 Ounces Gruyere Cheese, grated, 1/2 cup of it set aside for garnish
8 Ounces Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 Cup Flour
6 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Salt 
Pinch of Cinnamon
Pinch of Ground Cloves


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the apple sausage and cook until it is just cooked all the way through, breaking it apart into smaller pieces with the end of a wooden spoon while it's cooking. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the package's directions. When it is done, drain it well, drizzle it with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and shake it around a bit in the strainer to keep the pieces from getting stuck to each other.


While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, heat the milk and applesauce in a medium-sized saucepan over medium low heat until hot, but do not bring it to a boil, stirring every 3 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat and whisk in the flour right after it is completely melted. Continue heating the butter/flour mixture for two minutes, whisking all the while. Then whisk the hot milk and applesauce into the butter mixture and cook for two more minutes, still whisking. The mixture should begin to thicken at this point.


Remove the dutch oven from the heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, gruyere (except the 1/2 cup), cheddar, and the apple sausage pieces until evenly distributed. Add the cooked pasta and stir until the pasta is covered in the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of the grated gruyere over the mac and cheese, and sprinkle a pinch of extra pepper over the top if you'd like (gives it a nice finished look). Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the macaroni on top just begins to turn golden brown at the tips. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.






38 comments:

  1. Your tree is a Bradford Pear. Pretty, but smell like fish. Yuck! :P

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    1. You are totally right! Thank you! It even gets those tiny hard cherry-pears in the fall. Completely stinky haha.

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  2. Ugh, THOSE TREES. They're all over Burlington, and there's usually a day or two during the spring when the entire town smells like a bad fish market.

    But on to this mac and cheese, which looks so amazing!! Holy cow, I'm freaking out right now over the idea of putting applesauce in mac & cheese, because that sounds like the best thing ever! (I want to just type an entire row of exclamation points...refraining...) Also, you used my favorite pasta in the whole wide world, so I honestly cannot imagine a more perfect dish in the whole world. Oh how I wish I was having this for dinner, and not a leftover lunch sandwich and some quinoa. (:

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    1. I wish you were having it too! That was my first time trying this type of pasta and I just loved it. Perfect for mac & cheese, those holes are so big that the cheese sauce just seeps right in with ease. Delicious! I don't think I will stray far from this pasta type for my future mac & cheese endeavors.

      And omg yes, those trees are REALLY unfortunate. They look so beautiful but smell so, so awful. It's like a cruel joke that mother nature's playing on us :'(

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  3. I can almost smell your kitchen from over here! Pass me a fork and a big ol bowl of this apple mac and cheese!

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    1. Hahaha! It really does smell delicious. I have some apple sauce in the fridge, I am contemplating making more tonight!

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  4. LOVE IT! Love Mac and cheese and when it has a little twist in sauce, it makes it all the more interesting.

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  5. Wow, that looks massively comforting. Love the innovative use of apple sauce here!

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    1. Thank you Leaf! It is a very comforting dish indeed :)

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  6. I'm intrigued by the idea of using applesauce - does it taste really sweet or just boost the texture/flavour?

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    1. It doesn't taste straight-up sweet, but it adds an apple-flavor to it and a slight hint of sweetness. Really complements the salty cheeses :)

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  7. I'm adding this recipe to my to-do list this week. It sounds (and looks) amazing.

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  8. obviously like your web-site however you have to test the spelling on several
    of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the reality nevertheless I'll certainly come back again.

    Also visit my website how do i get pinterest followers

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    1. Funny that you are one to comment on language, considering you used absolutely no punctuation in your post.

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    2. Haha, thank you! I was thinking the exact same thing. And this recipe looks amazing!

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    3. How absolutely rude! First of all, I am a grammar/spelling freak & I didn't find much wrong with Eva's posts. Second, I have learned that when it comes to posts, on the world-wide web, it is not my place to correct anyone.

      Most people that post on the web are very busy people stealing a couple minutes to post something of interest to them - the last thing they are thinking about is their spelling/grammar. Let's not forget, please, that the entrance of all this technology into our world is not necessarily as knowledge boosting as most think. We have "Spell check", "Grammar check" & even those pesky "Auto correct" programs on every device we use. I don't know about you, however, I do find myself & many people I know ( some are even journalists ) falling prey to these easy outs. Unfortunately, when I let technology take over mistakes are made & I know I would not feel ok if I posted something then people started pulling apart the spelling/grammar instead of taking interest in what my post was referencing. Humans make mistakes. Computers/Cellphones are programmed by humans so it follows that these technological devices & their programs will also contain & therefore make mistakes.

      Knowing these facts maybe, just maybe, the Internet "Spelling/Grammar police" should just stop their patrolling. It's not needed. Since an OCD English language freak, such as I, can overlook it anyone can. Give people a break - we live with enough pressure in our daily lives we don't need the pressure here too. So, if you want "Followers" on your site, ease up. That goes for the rest of the "Police" out the also.

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    4. Now, I'll police myself. The last sentence of my post up above should read: "That goes for the rest of the "Police" out THERE also."
      Sorry...

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  9. We always had bushes with the pretty flowers that smelled terrible. Maybe they're the same plant?? I guess the masses wanted a dependable ornamental that looked good, but they forgot to consider it's scent! Gross. Your mac and cheese looks so wonderful! That's so great that a dining out experience stuck with you so well for so long and you were able to replicate it at home. College (or hey, graduate school!) budgets be damned! Now I have to get my hands on some pork apple sausage; that concept alone has me drooling!

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    1. Yes, get some of that sausage! It is just wonderful. I got mine at Whole Foods but have purchased apple sausages with various meats (chicken, turkey, or pork) at lots of regular grocery stores. It is incredibly addicting. And tastes so good in so many different types of dishes!

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  10. such an interesting recipe! looks amazing

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  11. what?! things i've never put into mac and cheese: applesauce and sausage. things that would be delicious in mac and cheese: applesauce and sausage. this is marvelous! :)

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    1. Haha, thank you Grace! It is such a great combination, salty and cheesy and with just a hint of sweetness :)

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  12. Wow, what an interesting take on mac and cheese. And I think I love it!!

    Sues

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  13. This looks and sounds STUNNING. Pinning and making as soon as humanly possible.

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  14. Eva, Keep up the good work. That Mac N' Cheese looks good enough to eat off the screen. I don't know what you do on a daily basis as your career, but, the photos of your culinary delight are worthy of the best Food Magazine or Cookbook. To think you took photos making people want to jump through the screen just to get your food & you did it without all the tricks usually used to fake the food looking delicious - that is quite a feat. Any commercial photography company would be lucky to have you. Something to think about...SuZ

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    1. Thank you so, so much Suz. Your kind words mean very much!

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  15. Wow...just made and tasted. Awesome!!!

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  16. I made this recipe last Sunday and it was so delicious! I'm definitely going to make it again; next time, I'm going to try it with a spicy chicken sausage. I think it will give it a nice kick against the sweet creaminess. Thank you for sharing such an awesome recipe! I'm now addicted to your blog :)

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    1. Awww thank you Danielle!!! I am so happy you liked it! And I agree, a spicy chicken sausage would be AMAZING in this!

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