Recipe 21: Creole Mac and Cheese

Yesterday Loverman and I were invited to a “porch party,” a get-together our friends hold – surprise, surprise – on their back porch to enjoy the nice weather and each others’ company.  These get-togethers are pretty informal, just bring something to throw on the grill, a side dish, and maybe a beverage of choice.  Since we were also requested to bring a dish to pass, I figured it was the perfect excuse opportunity to make another mac.

The title I found on this one says “Creole Mac and Cheese.”  Aside from the use of andouille sausage, I’m not sure how authentically Creole the seasonings are.  Then again, a while ago I had up here a supposedly Cajun Mac and Cheese, and it was the same deal.  So I understand and accept this may not be authentic, and I hope you do, too.

Creole Mac and Cheese (from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package elbow macaroni (I think mine was corn)
  • 1 cup andouille sausage, diced (I used 4 pork andouille sausages)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (this is divided)
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (or gluten-free alternative)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped (I used two rather titchy yellow onions instead)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (I did use it despite my dislike of celery, but doing it again I’d leave it out; that’s just my preference, however)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (or gluten-free alternative)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard (I used a Dijon mustard because I am a crazy rebel like that)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (I used a sharp yellow Cheddar)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain.
  2. In a small pan, cook the andouille sausage over medium heat until done. Set aside. In the same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add bread crumbs, and stir to coat. Cool, and then mix in Parmesan. Set aside.  (My sausage was pre-cooked, but I did this step anyway to get some of the sausage-grease into the crumbs)
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Saute onions and celery until translucent. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. In the same saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, to make a white roux. Try not to let the roux brown at all, it should be white. (I think I let mine get brown; I tend to do that.  I don’t think it mattered) Mix in paprika and mustard, then stir in milk. (The mixture will smell spicy and be kind of pinkish from the paprika) Bring to boil over medium heat, then add Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Simmer, stirring often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9×13 in pan, or similar sized casserole dish. Transfer cooked macaroni to the dish, and toss in the andouille sausage. Stir in the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture evenly over the top.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crust turns golden brown.

Verdict: 3/5

I am kind of low-balling this despite good reviews from the guests who ate it.  I am so wussy about spice, and this was a bit too intense for me.  Still, there is definitely flavor and not just heat for heat’s sake, which I detest.  Maybe caramelizing the onions would be nice or letting the crumb topping get even a little browner so the Parmesan can get meltier would have been all right.  Some reviews that were given by the diners included “Hoo, that does have a kick to it – but it’s good though!” and “Mm… Nom nom nom” followed by a hug.  Really.

I neglected to bring my camera or borrow my hosts’ camera to take a picture of the mac when it came out of the oven, so here is a cell phone quality picture of the aftermath of eight people having descended upon it.  After this picture was taken, two more portions were served to late comers, leaving only one portion left to bring home.

Not a pretty sight, I know – but it was enjoyed, so there is that.

In unrelated news, Happy Mothers’ Day to all you mamas out there!  Here’s hoping you had a great day.  Well, I hope even you non-mamas had a great day too – but especially the mamas on their day.

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