Recipe 34: Mustard Kielbasa Mac and CheesePosted: August 29, 2012
I actually made this mac last night, but I didn’t type it up until today. Why? I’m a bit under the weather. Not dying or anything – I’ve definitely been worse – but the most appealing activity I can think of at the moment is sleep. Long, luxurious sleep. And then after eating and other necessaries, sleeping some more. I spent much of yesterday napping, and Loverman even woke me up when he came home from work to inquire about dinner. “So basically you want me to get up and make dinner?” I grumbled. Don’t worry, he was just checking how much of a snack he should have to tide him over until I got around to making dinner; he knows how to feed himself. Staying up for work tonight will be interesting.
This recipe is courtesy of Food in My Beard. You may remember it from such Weekly Mac highlights as Lobster Mac and Cheese, Pork Belly Mac and Cheese, and my favorite Beardie recipe (so far), Mac and Cheesesteak. I took a forced sabbatical from using his recipes for a while since I was doing so many from his site, but I certainly did not forget the power of the beard. When I saw this recipe, I thought it was necessary to try this. Why? Much like mushrooms, it’s only been recently that I’ve begun to appreciate kielbasa. Again, like mushrooms, it was largely owing to overcoming negative exposures in my youth (jeez, I’m becoming a sort of food-Freud or something). Growing up, the kielbasa I’d had was always insanely salty and prepared rather plainly, usually just boiled. Thankfully, after some patient exposure therapy courtesy of Loverman and friends, I discovered it could be an enjoyable part of a meal. And so when I read this recipe, I recognized another chance to put aside long-held culinary prejudices and make amends.
Mustard Kielbasa Mac and Cheese (from Food in My Beard)
- 1 Lb Kielbasa (if you are gluten-free, check your ingredients; I used Hillshire Farms)
- 1 Onion
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Flour (I used Pamela’s)
- 3 Cups Milk
- 20 Oz. Yellow Cheddar (you can use white cheddar of course, but then you won’t get a fun, insanely yellow color at the end)
- 1/3 Cup Mustard (I just used plain yellow)
- 1 Lb Small Rigatoni (I used corn penne
- 1 Handful Chopped Arugula (I had baby arugula and just shredded it by hand)
Chop the kielbasa into pieces that match the size of the pasta. Cook the kielbasa in a splash of oil to brown up a bit and release some fat. There is a lot of sugar in kielbasa, so stir often to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning. Remove the kielbasa from the pan keeping the fat in. Saute the onion in the oil/kielbasa fat mixture until just lightly browning. Add the butter and melt. Add the flour and mix well. Cook the flour in the pan for about 3-5 minutes stirring almost constantly until it turns golden brown. Add the milk and mix well to assure no lumps form. Bring to a simmer.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes while shredding the cheese. Add the cheese to the pot and stir to incorporate. If you add the cheese while the sauce is too hot, it will separate, but this can be fixed with a stick blender (I am lazy so I just added the cheese while it was still hot; it seemed to work fine). Add the mustard and arugula to the sauce (it takes a little bit, but eventually it will turn an almost unnatural shade of yellow, and it will make you kind of giggle). Boil the pasta for a few minutes less than directed. Strain and toss in the sauce. Add in the kielbasa and toss. Pour into a baking dish and bake at 450 for about a half hour until bubbly and browned on top (mine was slightly burned, but thankfully it didn’t ruin things).
I think my disinclination towards kielbasa still lingers a bit in that I still find it slightly saltier than I generally care for. But that is one ingredient out of a whole recipe. Just as I didn’t grow up with a very respectable preparation of kielbasa, I also had never heard of pairing them with mustard until recently – and it works. The mild sharpness of the mustard with the saltiness of the sausage pair nicely. I suppose if you were gutsier than me you could try something other than yellow mustard – a Dijon or a Chinese spicy perhaps? I personally didn’t think the arugula added anything, but it didn’t detract from anything either – and hey, it does sneak some greens into your mac, and if that’s what it takes, then why not?
On another note, any suggestions how to improve things here? Drop me a line!