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Yesterday, while in the morning it was cool and looking like it would be likely to rain, Josh and I took a trip to the market to pick up some things that I would need to do some cooking this week. I didn’t buy an abundance of anything (except cheese, but then again, one can never have too much cheese in the house): some macaroni, colby jack, cheddar, and Gruyere cheeses, some bread from the bakery, an onion, you know, things like that. When we got home, Josh and I barely made it in the door with the stuff before our stomachs both growled and I knew that I would have to do some cooking.

Being tired of chicken, Josh had asked me (while we were at the market) to make something different. I had thrown some ideas out until one sounded more or less agreeable: an adult twist on pigs in a blanket and macaroni and cheese. Growing up, Mum would make the pigs in a blanket from time to time and she always served it with fries or mac and cheese. The “adult” twist on it is that instead of hot dogs, I picked up sausage for the pigs in a blanket, and instead of doing box macaroni and cheese, I would be making it from scratch- for the first time.

The first thing I did was to get everything I would need.

Back: Milk, Colby Jack cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Croissants
Front: Macaroni elbows, Johnsonville’s “Beddar with Cheddar” sausage

I heated the oven to 375 and set about working on making the Pigs first. This required having to open the tube of croissants. After a little bit of work, the tube opened up and I began tolling out the dough onto the foil lined cookie sheet.

The next thing I did was try to wrap the sausage in the croissants. I don’t know how Mum used to get them to look so perfect when I was a kid, because my pigs were very lopsided in their “blanket”. It must be a motherhood thing.

being that there were only 6 links and 8 croissants, I had two croissants leftover that I just baked as were.

Once the oven finished heating, I put the sheet in and eyed the clock once before getting down to business with the macaroni and cheese. The recipe that I went with was one from Food Network and can be found here. Rather than sticking to the recipe’s method, however, I didn’t end up baking it. It ended up as a skillet, but we’ll get to that momentarily.

The first thing I did was to get a big pan of water onto the stove to boil.

Because the front burner on the stove takes forever to get to temperature, I had plenty of time to shred the cheese.

I must have shredded cheese for 10 minutes and though that sounds like a lot, it really is. The recipe called for 12 oz of cheese, or a cup and a half, and since I like a variety of flavours, I split this between cheddar cheese and Colby jack.

After what felt like forever, the water came to a boil and I added the macaroni noodles.

While the pasta cooked, I got a separate pan out and began to make the base for the sauce. It starts out with a roux* made with equal parts butter and flour. Then milk is added.

Now, all I had to do was wait for the pasta to finish cooking. As always, I cooked it until al dente and then strained it with cool water. The result: perfect pasta.

It was at this point (30 minutes since I had put the tray of pigs in a blanket into the oven) that I remembered I was baking the other part of our lunch. In my rush to get the now very brown croissant covered sausages out of the oven, I didn’t snap any pictures. Thankfully, none of them were scorched and though they didn’t look ideal, they still looked and smelled incredibly edible.

While the baking sheet cooled, I continued to assemble the pasta. I folded the pasta into the roux and milk mix and then added the cheese, stirring vigorously. Unfortunately, the sauce was still too thin and milky. I then noticed that the stove was only on medium low so as the mix wouldn’t burn. I turned up the heat and set about shredding more cheese.

this would be the mess from using the box shredder, next time, I’ll bring my little restaurant style shredder or Mum’s mandolin with me.

Between the raised temperature in the pan and the vast amount of Colby Jack on top of the Cheddar cheese that I had already added, the macaroni took on the beautiful shade that I recognised.

Once the sauce had reached a gooey consistency, I removed it from the heat and while it cooled, began doing some of the other dishes. After it had been sitting for 10 minutes, I plated.

The initial bite into the macaroni and cheese was satisfying. It didn’t taste like that boxed junk that I always seemed to rely on when I wanted macaroni and cheese. No, this was delightful. Each bite was full of tender, creamy pasta without it being overly rich. The Colby Jack and cheddar played off of each other beautifully and if anything, I probably could have gotten away with adding the paprika like the original recipe called for. Meanwhile, the pigs, despite my worries were perfectly cooked. The croissants, though they were browned on the outside, were still golden on the inside and paired beautifully with the cheddar filled sausage. Though the pairing was nostalgic, it was grown up.

~Not My Recipe: On Macaroni & Cheese~

Food Network is to thank for this recipe, though I did do it a bit differently, but that’s cooking; a recipe is nothing but a blank canvas for those who know how to, to paint upon.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 oz of cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz of Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound of macaroni pasta (I used double macaroni spirals)

Method:

  1. In a large pan, bring water to a roiling boil over high heat, add macaroni. Cook according to package directions until al dente.
  2. While the pasta cooks, in a deep skillet, heat butter and flour over medium-low heat, whisking so that no clumps remain. It should be a light brown colour. When no clumps remain, add 3 cups of milk, stirring to combine completely.
  3. When the macaroni has finished cooking, strain and rinse with cool water. Fold it into the skillet and raise the temperature to medium-high heat (about six on the knob)
  4. Sir in the cheese, stirring until well combined.
  5. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from heat and let sit for an additional 10 minutes. Sauce will thicken which is okay.
  7. Serve warm and enjoy!

~Notes~

* A roux is a mixture of flour and butter (or oil) that is used in cooking where the butter (or oil) is heated in a pan and then the flour is stirred in.

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