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.
- 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)
- Brown Kielbasa in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 7 to 9 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix noodles into the skillet with the cooked sausage.
- 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.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until sauce starts to bubble up around the edges and cheese has melted.
- Serve immediately.