Christmas Kielbasa Mac & Cheese


Every Christmas, and every Thanksgiving, too, I try a new mac and cheese recipe as a side. This Christmas Mac & Cheese was the main dish. We had a more elaborate menu planned with ribs and pumpkin praline pie, but I opted not to spend my entire day in the kitchen cooking and cleaning this year and instead made a pasta dish that took less than 60 minutes, start to finish. My sister made a simple arugula salad. We baked take ‘n make bread rolls. And we finished the evening (much later of course) with Christmas Cookie Cups.

I based my recipe off one my grandma sent me for “Johnsonville Kielbasa Mac n Cheese” but kicked it up a notch by adding cheese and crushed crackers on top and baking it for a bit. It was dreamy, creamy perfect and slightly spicy: an overall hit at our Christmas dinner.

ingredients.

  • 1 13.5 oz package Polish Kielbasa Sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 3/4 c. water
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 12 oz pasta (elbow, shells, etc.)
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 sleeve of butter crackers, crushed (for topping)
  • 1 oz. parmesan cheese (for topping)
  • 2 T. melted butter (for topping)

directions.

  1. Brown Kielbasa in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 7 to 9 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, combine water, 1 1/4 c. milk, noodles and salt. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Cooke for approximately 8 minutes until just short of al dente.
  3. Whisk remaining milk, hot sauce and cornstarch together in a small bowl and then stir into pasta. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses. Taste cheese sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary. (I had to.)
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Mix noodles into the skillet with the cooked sausage.
  6. Mix crushed crackers, parmesan cheese and melted butter together in a bowl or shake in a ziplock bag. Sprinkle over pasta. Add additional cheese on top crackers, if desired.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until sauce starts to bubble up around the edges and cheese has melted.
  8. Serve immediately.

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