Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Art of the Mac Dog

I eat like an eight year old child. Sure, I work in a kitchen where we turn out gourmet this and gourmet that. I know flavor combinations that are different and exciting. I know how to angle meat, veg, and starch onto a plate in an artful and classy manner.

But when I am relaxing at home and hunger strikes, my instinctual food choices are much simpler.

I habitually consume:
1. Peanut butter and ___________ (insert jelly, honey, bread, or spoon into the blank)
2. Mini pretzels
3. Oats (oatmeal, granola or any other variation of the grain)
4. Granny smith apples

What are mac dogs? If that is a question you are asking then I am mourning for you. I feel bad that you never enjoyed eating macaroni and cheese spiked with hot dog pieces as a child. I feel bad that your soon-to-be boyfriend never made them from muscle memory for you after a night at Eagle's Pub. I am sorry that you are not currently eating them after a long day of making mousses, creating puff pastry tarts, and plating up salmon fillets with quinoa.

Mac dogs can be made with a box of Kraft and a package of hot dogs. However, what Jeff and I now call mac dogs is a slightly more complicated dish. It is a recipe that boasts a homemade cheese sauce and caramelized kielbasa. This dish comes from my cooking obsession and his desire to perfect the recipe that we both love.

Mac Dogs
1 Kielbasa sausage (1 lb)
1/2 c bbq sauce
Dash hot chili oil
1 lb pasta (we used cavatappi)
3 c whole milk
8 oz munster cheese, cubed
8 oz white cheddar cheese, cubed
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt (more to taste if needed)
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 c flour
dash cinnamon
1/2 c breadcrumbs seasoned with a dash of pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Boil pasta in water, drain and set aside
2. Ina small pot, heat milk until hot (not boiling). While the milk is heating, melt butter in a large stock pot
3. When butter is bubbly and light brown, add flour and stir vigorously to incorporate (this is your roux that will thicken the sauce)
4. Add milk to roux, stirring constantly to break up any lumps
5. Continue to stir over medium heat until sauce thickens (coats back of a wooden spoon)
6. Once thickened, add cheese (reserving a little of each variety for topping) and mix until smooth; season with salt, pepper and cinnamon then remove from heat.
7. In a skillet heat oil then add sausage, bbq sauce and pepper to taste (we used about 1/2 a teaspoon); cook until bb1 sauce has coated the kielbasa and begins to carmelize
8. Coat a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray and evenly distribute cooked sausage into the bottom of the pan
9. Add pasta to sauce and fold together until sauce is evenly incorporated; pour noodles over sausage in pan
10. Top with reserved cheese and breadcrumbs
11. Bake at 375 until cheese topping melts and the top layers of noodles turns a light brown, about 15 minutes

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