Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kielbasa and Sauerkraut - A Combo of Comfort

What do you want for dinner?

That question is the source of a daily conversation in our house. Even the kids join in and usually dinner is a collaboration of ideas and effort.

One meal that is sure to make everyone happy is homemade macaroni and cheese. The kids just plain love it, and it is a touchstone of comfort for the Kitchen Genius and me.

I’ve been cooking the same recipe for as long as I’ve known how to cook. This is a recipe that transcends generations in my family. My Mom put her version of it in the cookbook she wrote for all of her kids.

My sister-in-law Dana cooks that recipe for my brother Chris because it’s his favorite childhood dinner. I’m pretty sure it’s my son Tommy’s favorite dinner too, so I’ll be sure to pass this one down to his future wife.

I start with a basic white sauce that originally came from my Mom’s old copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 1968 Edition. Years ago the Kitchen Genius suggested adding a little Dijon mustard and hot sauce and I’ve done so ever since.

This HORRIFIED my brother the one time I made it for him. He was in the kitchen talking to me while I cooked and when he saw me add the mustard, he yelled, "What are you doing?"

"We like it better this way. Wait until you taste it," I assured him. He just shook his head when the hot sauce was added.

To him, it was utter sacrilege to alter Mom's recipe and he picked at his dinner like a two year old that night. Hmmm…this might be where his sweet daughter Lola gets her fussiness about food from…

The Kitchen Genius picked up some Hillshire Farm Turkey Polska Kielbasa and sauerkraut so we had that (per his recipe ideas) and some baked beans on the side. It is the perfect marriage of affordable flavors.

I hated kielbasa when I was younger and didn’t get around to trying it again until a few years ago.

My in-laws, Jack and Gini, served some grilled turkey kielbasa at a family picnic and it smelled so good, I decided to give it a try. I loved it. Turkey kielbasa has a nice smooth texture and none of the crunchy things I remember hating. I’ve been buying it ever since.

It’s funny how tastes change over the years. Are there any foods you hated as a child that you now love?

The Recipes:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 box elbows or pasta of choice
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cracked pepper
2 dashes hot sauce
2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 slice soft oatmeal bread
2 tablespoons butter

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir in flour and cook until bubbly, just a few seconds. Add milk all at once and whisk to mix. Add salt and pepper. Whisk continuously until mixture come to a bubbling point and is thickened.

Take off burner and mix in hot sauce, mustard and cheese. Mix cheese sauce with cooked pasta and pour into a deep casserole dish.

Break up slice of bread into mini food processor and process until crumbs. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Mix butter and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top of mac and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until top is browned and sauce is bubbling.

For a printable recipe click here

Baked Turkey Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

1 tablespoon bacon fat (or butter)
1 medium onion
1 pound bag sauerkraut
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cracked pepper
1 pound package Hillshire Farm Turkey Polska Kielbasa

Melt bacon fat in skillet and sauté onions until tender. Drain sauerkraut in colander, rinse and drain again. Add to skillet along with sugar and pepper. Stir well to blend flavors and heat through. Place sauerkraut in 9x9 inch baking pan. Cut kielbasa into four pieces and arrange on top of sauerkraut. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

For a printable recipe click here


Dharm said...

Is Kielbasa a kind of sausage? I used to make Macaroni and cheese too for the kids when they were younger. They loved it and this looks great too!

Meg said...

Looks delicious! I love that you used oatmeal bread in the mac and cheese!

Laurie said...

Thanks for stopping by Dharm and Meg! We're in budget/comfort food mode around here.

Kielbasa is a spicy smoked Polish sausage.

LOL - I've been sneaking whole grains and veggies in to my son's food every chance I get. He can detect whole wheat, but oatmeal fools him every time.

Zesty Cook said...

Laurie, I love your version of macaroni and cheese. It looks great. I love comfort food. Great recipes. thanks so much for sharing


Emily Adamson said...

Looks like a great combo of foods for a very comforting dinner! We're having a comfort food recipe contest and would love to have you enter! Check it out at

Michele said...

I haven't had kielbasa since I was a teenager. I hated it back then. I think mainly because my mother made it so often for dinner.(that and fish sticks!) I'm going to take your recommendation and give the turkey variety a try.

Foods I hated as a child that I love now? Sour cream, rice and beets. :-)

vanillasugarblog said...

Oh you are so lucky to have a boyfriend/hubby that loves kielbasa and baked beans. My hubby hates them! And I love them. And you are very lucky to be food writing for I assume the Times? I would love to do a few snippets here and there--how very exciting!
Yes, your mac & cheese does look good.

Laurie said...

Thanks for the idea, Emily. I did enter the contest with my Oatmeal Honey Bread because I noticed there were already several mac and cheese entries.

Dawn, I am very lucky to have a husband who not only cooks, but eats EVERYTHING. I seriously can not think of one food he doesn't like.

stephchows said...

mmmmm a woman after my own heart mac and cheese and kielbasa YUM!! And as for the hot sauce my boyfriend would love it, he puts it on everything haha.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness - comfort food at its ultimate best!

I took make a white sauce as my base - my sister brought her kids over one time and asked me what was for lunch. I said "mac n cheese!" to which I received "yeah!" I placed a steaming, cheesey, yummy bowl in front of each of them, and they collectively asked: "where's the orange sauce?"

Damn Kraft!

Thistlemoon said...

That looks like the perfect cold weather comfort food meal for me! I would eat every last bite in my plate.

It is funny my mom is the same way when I alter ingredients of some of my grandmother's recipes...she gets so upset!

Alicia Foodycat said...

I love sausage and sauerkraut, but I have never tried turkey sausages like those. Looks wonderful!

I always put mustard in my cheese sauce, but have never tried hotsauce as well - that is a great idea.