Cider Mac N Cheese & Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage with Bacon Breadcrumbs
When I first started dating my husband, seven years ago, I was amazed and disgusted by the foods he and his college housemates would eat.
Looking around their kitchen, you could tell they were a bunch of bachelors. Cans of tuna stacked on two different shelves, many boxes of Easy-Mac, cans of chili, canned Chef Boyardee, every condiment known to mankind in their refrigerator, and boxes and bags of fast food strewn about the kitchen table. You would then look over to the living room area and be guaranteed to see somebody napping after they pulled a Martin Spurlock and tried to eat everything on the McDonald’s dollar value meal.
Their constant line-up of salt packed, processed, or take-out foods used to bother me to no end, because I would think “Don’t you know how easy it is to cook this and make it healthier with non-processed ingredients?”
I guess comparing life as a bachelorette versus life as a bachelor is really like comparing apples to oranges. In my all girl apartment we made dinner every night. We would even have “family dinners” with our two neighboring apartments.
We would cook homemade meat sauce and meatballs, vegetable stir fry, chicken and veggies, and the lists go on and on. We would also have an easy side dish of steamed vegetables or a salad with every dinner.
We all shopped cheap, we shopped smart, and cooked quickly because we had parties and nasty keg beer to get to which, (after schoolwork) was way more important than standing over a stove for five hours cooking.
Bachelors eat what they eat without much thought or planning behind it. They don’t want to cook for a very long time for the same reasons as bachelorettes (plus the fact that they don’t want to clean up afterwards). If they just put a little more thought into it (sigh, isn’t that how it is with most things concerning men ladies?), they could have a good semi-healthy meal.
Before I came into the picture, my husband was basically eating the meals he ate when he was six years old because he wouldn’t eat anything green and clearly did not know how to cook for himself. You would think his palate would have matured from the age of six, but to this day, his favorite thing in the whole world to cook and eat is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese mixed with sliced hot dogs.
So, enter the challenge. My husband has challenged me to take some of the well known bachelor staples and “bachelorettize” them into something better! (Little does he know that I am going to be using him as my guinea pig to gauge if real life bachelors could accomplish this recipe.)
And it all starts with my twist on macaroni and cheese with hot dogs!
Ingredients (makes enough for one large casserole)
4 Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage Links
1 Box of Multigrain Elbow Noodles
3 Slices of Bacon
3 Cups of Smoked Cheddar Cheese, shredded
3 Cups of Gouda Cheese, shredded
1 ½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cider Beer
2 Sprigs of Thyme
1 TSP Salt
1 TSP Pepper
½ TSP Garlic, grated
1 TBSP Bacon Grease
2 Cups of Bread Crumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the box of elbow noodles. Boil noodles for 6 minutes on high heat. When the noodles are al dente, remove from the heat, and drain.
In a large sauce pot, bring the heavy cream and cider beer to a simmer. Add in the thyme, slat, pepper, and garlic. Simmer for twenty minutes on medium/low, until all the thyme leaves wilt off into the liquid. Remove the sprigs of thyme. Then add in thegoudaand smoked cheddar. Reduce the heat to low/warm and cook until the cheese melts into a liquid form.
The sausages I bought were fully cooked. So, if you really wanted to be a bachelor about this, you could just cut them into fourths length-wise, then into ½ an inch size pieces and throw them right into the cheese mixture. But, since I am who I am, I grilled the sausage halves for about ten minutes just to get some nice crispy grill marks on them before I cut them and added them to the cheese sauce.
While the sausage is grilling, add the three strips of bacon to a pan and cook until crisp. Let the bacon cool for about five minutes before adding it to the breadcrumbs. To make the breadcrumbs, I took three stale pieces of sourdough bread and pulsed them in the food processor until they were small crumbs. When the bacon has cooled, give it a rough chop and add it along with the TBSP of bacon grease to the food processor. Give it a good whirl until the bacon is broken up into similar sizes as the breadcrumbs.
After you add the chicken sausage to the cheese sauce toss the cooked noodles into the pot and mix. At this point, once again, if you want to be a true bachelor, you can stop and eat and just skip the breadcrumb step (which is what my husband did).
Since it was my challenge to “bachelorettize” the food, I kept going. In my humble opinion, a macaroni and cheese is not a macaroni and cheese without the crunchy topping. Just sayin’.
Add the macaroni, cheese, and sausage mixture to a large buttered pyrex dish or large buttered oven-safe casserole dish. Add an even layer of the bacon breadcrumbs to the top of the macaroni and cheese and sausage mixture. Bake the macaroni and cheese at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown and crunchy.
Let the mac rest for about fifteen minutes before serving. Scoop out a health portion and top with a little chopped parsley or chives for color.
If my husband can make this so can you!!! It is an easy twist on a bachelor classic and it even has the approval of somebody that used to live off mac n cheese and hot dogs….. Well, I guess that isn’t saying much.
Trust me. Just make it, eat it, and like it, okay?