We received the nicest surprise in the mail! The folks at Johnsonville Sausage sent us a Christmas card with coupons inside for a few packages of their sausage on the house! 😀 Made our day!! 😀
Not only are they a wonderful company that makes awesome sausage, they really know how to treat their customers. Though there seems to be few these days, there are still companies out there that have kind and expert customer service. Johnsonville Sausage is one of them.
On the other end of the spectrum of courteous, we have Walmart and Shop Rite here in town. They never cease to amaze me. (*insert eye-roll here*) We actually had a bit of trouble redeeming J-Ville’s coupons, because, you see, both stores decided to either not purchase their product or removed from their shelves, Johnsonville Sausage while they were, and I quote, “Promoting another brand”. A “little birdie” let J-Ville know about this, and we were finally able to choose from newly stocked shelves a few days later. 😉
First chosen was one of our favorites! Their Chicken Sausage! Never ever would I have thought several years ago that I would even touch precooked sausage, let alone chicken sausage. I have never been fond of it, that is, until we tried J-Ville’s. Wonderful texture, great flavor, and half the fat. What’s not to love about that?!! Right? 😀
Though these chicken sausage links are precooked, I wanted to get a nice sear and caramelization going on them before adding them to my new mac ‘n cheese idea. So after slicing, I got the pan screaming hot with a bit of oil and browned them quickly for just a minute on each side. This worked beautifully and the cheese didn’t leak out. If you’re terribly crunched for time, you can skip this step, but I highly recommend doing this.
Just look at that gorgeous color! And the taste? PheNOMinal.
Two more of my personal favorites, Barilla and Snyder’s, entered into the recipe! I can always count on Barilla’s pastas to be hearty, not too thin and skimpy, and never fall part or break up when cooking like so many do.
And my favorite pretzels in the world! Snyder’s Honey Mustard & Onion Sourdough Nibblers! Oh yeah. They just plain ROCK.
I thought to combine these favorites of mine all into one super fun dish and created a pub-style “beer cheese” mac ‘n cheese with sausage and crushed pretzels on top!
The rich creamy cheese had tons of wonderful flavor, especially with the addition of the whole grain mustard!
Though the hubs doesn’t care for beer very much, not at all really, even he really enjoyed this!
I used cellentani-shaped pasta, but you can use your own personal favorite shape if you’d like.
I left the pretzels chunky-crushed, but you can crush them further for a finer crumb top.
One thing you must do though, is let the casserole rest before diving in head first!
I cannot even TELL you how hard this was for my poor hubby!!! He had been smelling everything cooking and baking for hours, and what a trooper he was to wait one last minute so that I could get a “plop ‘n drop” shot! No styling. No frills. This is what it looks like. 😉 And the taste…..PHENOMENAL!! 😀
If you don’t, the sauce will be slightly runny. So just let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, and it sets up beautifully! Just look above at how creamy rich it is!
This was one of my favorite mac ‘n cheese recipes that I’ve come up with yet! Simple and not overdone, but loaded with fantastic flavor! The pretzels on top were so much fun, and the sausage just made this dish!
Look no further for a super fun classic with a twist! This was the bomb! 😀 Just serve with a side veggie or salad and you’re all set! And don’t forget a chilled mug of your favorite brew! 😉
So I hope this takes the blahs out of a boring weeknight meal and adds a little spark of fun! Take care all, and I’ll see you soon! ~Kelly
*The opinions of these products are my own personal opinions, and not a paid endorsement.
- 1 (12 oz.) pkg. Johnsonville 3 Cheese Italian Chicken Sausages with Red Bell Pepper & Garlic, sliced into 12 slices each
- 1 Tbl. oil
- 1 Tbl. butter
- For Sauce:
- 2 Tbl. butter
- 2 large shallots or ½ of a small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbl. flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream, (can sub milk if desired)
- ⅓ cup beer
- ½ tsp. Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
- 1 Tbl. + 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
- 1 tsp. extra hot horseradish
- ½ tsp. white pepper
- ½ tsp. worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne
- ¾ lb. extra sharp cheddar, grated
- ½ cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
- 4 oz. Velveeta, diced
- 1 Tbl. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbl. cold beer
- 2½ cups uncooked pasta, small shapes such as cellentani or macaroni
- For Topping:
- 4 Tbl. butter, melted
- 1½ cups Snyder's Honey Mustard & Onion Sourdough Pretzel Nibblers, crushed (measure before crushing) or as desired
- In large frying pan, heat oil and 1 Tbl. butter until very hot. Fry sausage slices until seared and browned, about 1 minute per side, turning quickly. Remove to a bowl, cover and set aside.
- In large saucepan or small pot, add 2 Tbl. butter and melt over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 Tbl. flour and cook, stirring for 2 more minutes.
- Slowly add milk, cream and beer, whisking in until lump-free.
- Add chicken base, mustard, horseradish, white pepper, worcestershire and cayenne.
- Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Stir and boil 1 minute.
- Add cornstarch and beer slurry, and stir until thickened.
- Turn down heat and add cheeses, stirring until fully melted.
- Fold in sausage. Remove from heat, cover with lid tilted and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Cook pasta for 1 minute less than recommended for al dente. Drain well. Stir in to cheese and sausage sauce.
- Grease a 2½ qt. casserole dish with lid. Fill with mac 'n cheese mixture. Cover and bake for 35-40 minutes.
- In small bowl toss together melted butter and crushed pretzels. Remove casserole from oven, evenly sprinkle buttered crush pretzels over mac 'n cheese.
- Pop back into oven and bake, uncovered, another 5 minutes.
- LET REST for 15-20 minutes before serving so that casserole can cool down a little and fully thicken.