One of the meals that we ate when we were in Scottsdale, Arizona, was a spicy mac and cheese with sausage and red peppers. It was a nice change of pace from traditional mac and cheese, so we decided to try and replicate the recipe ourselves. Making homemade macaroni and cheese isn’t very difficult and tastes better than anything that you can get out of a box, but we rarely take the time to do it. Fortunately, it is easy to find seasoned varieties of sausage in the grocery store these days, so we didn’t have to go to the trouble of making our own sausage. We found a nice Cajun spiced andouille sausage that paired nicely with the chipotle chili. One nice thing about a recipe like this is that you can easily modify it to feed a larger crowd or reduce it for a meal for one or two. We decided to cook ours in individual crock bowls, but cooking it in a casserole dish would certainly be ideal as well. You can also use different types of pasta for the dish, but we used a Cellentani noodle as it has ridges to help hold the cheese. This is definitely a recipe that we would do again in the future.
- 4 cups of Cellentani Noodles (or elbow macaroni)
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 4 cups Milk
- 1 Red Pepper – sliced into strips
- 2 Links of Andouille Sausage – cut into bite size pieces
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tbsp Chipotle Chili Powder (or to taste)
- 1 tsp Dry Mustard
- 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 3 1/2 cups Four Cheese Blend
- 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to the directions, drain and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, red pepper, and sausage. Even though the sausage is already cooked, frying it will caramelize it and add more flavor. Cook the sausage and pepper for about 5 to 7 minutes until the sausage is browned and the pepper is soft. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and then whisk in the flour to make a roux. Be sure not to let the roux start to brown. Heat 2 cups of the milk in a microwave for 90 seconds and then slowly whisk it into the roux, making sure to whisk out any lumps. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Microwave the rest of the milk for 90 seconds and then whisk that into the rest of the milk mixture. Add the chipotle powder, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper, ensuring to mix thoroughly. Add 3 cups of the cheese, whisking until it is smooth and creamy. Stir in the pasta, sausage, and peppers until the pasta is completely coated with the cheese sauce. Spoon 1/4 of the pasta into 4 oven proof bowls that have been sprayed with a non-stick spray (or transfer to a medium casserole dish). Top with the remaining cheese and bread crumbs and bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Serves 4.