Mac and cheese is one of the best comfort foods out there. Who can resist that gooey, cheesy sauce draped over perfectly cooked pasta? I know I can't. Sometimes you want the classic version and sometimes you want something a little more exciting. Enter: stout mac and cheese. It's like a grown-up version of cheeseburger mac meets beer cheese dip mixed with spicy Italian sausage and topped with crunchy panko. Yeah, it's gooooood.
What is the best pasta for mac and cheese?
This is quite the topic for debate but I'm here to tell you there's only one pasta you need for mac and cheese. Cavatappi. It sounds fancy but it's really just a long, curly macaroni noodle with ridges in it. They're the perfect pasta for mac and cheese because they hold their texture well so your mac and cheese doesn't turn to mush. And all those ridges and twists? They hold onto that cheese sauce like nobody's business. Bonus: they're such a fun shape to look at! So if you've been searching for the perfect mac noodle all your life, you've now been enlightened. You might also see cavatappi labeled as cellentani at the grocery store.
What type of cheese do you use for mac and cheese?
Cheddar cheese is the classic choice for mac and cheese. I love the flavor of sharp cheddar but I find that anything past medium results in a grainier sauce. As much as I hate to admit it, Velveeta also makes a darn good cheese sauce. I'm not a big fan of it on it's own but mix it with some medium cheddar cheese and it makes the creamiest mac and cheese sauce.
How do I make my antelope taste better?
This is a common question asked by people who are new to eating pronghorn (antelope) meat. Pronghorn does have a strong flavor that is dependent on a lot of factors - how the meat was processed, diet of the animal, how old it was etc. But, if you end up with a stronger tasting meat, you can do a lot to enhance the flavor instead of covering it up. One thing I always do with ground meat is thaw it on paper towels. This helps remove excess moisture and removes some of the off flavors in the meat. Using pronghorn for Italian sausage is a great use because the strong flavors from the spices go really well with the natural flavor of antelope meat. Add it to some gooey mac and cheese and you have yourself a winner!
How do you spice up cheeseburger macaroni?
Cheeseburger mac is a common comfort food loved by many but it can really leave something to be desired in the flavor and texture departments. The best way to spice it up is to use Italian sausage instead of plain ground meat. Even if you're not into the beer cheese sauce, I guarantee using Italian sausage will really take your cheeseburger mac to the next level. As for the texture, make sure you don't overcook your pasta before baking it and top it with something yummy and crunchy like panko bread crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese. You can't go wrong with adding more cheese to your cheese, right?
How do you make Italian sausage from scratch?
Sausage making can be an intimidating process but it doesn't have to be if you start with something easy that you don't need to put in a casing. Italian sausage is one of my favorites to make. My version has a mixture of salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, onion, basil, paprika, red pepper flakes, fennel, brown sugar, oregano, thyme, and red wine vinegar. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients in it. But, I like to make a big batch (3-4 recipes) at a time of the dry ingredients. Then when I'm ready to use it, I add about 3.5 tablespoons of the spice mixture plus the red wine vinegar to the meat, mix it all together, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Letting it sit in the fridge overnight is key to letting the flavors marry and having flavorful sausage.
A lot of people like to add spices to their ground meat before freezing it. But, I like to have all of my ground meat be 100% meat with nothing added. This gives me a blank slate so that I'm not locked into making a certain type of meal with the meat I have on hand. Sure, it takes a little more preparation and forethought to thaw the meat and add the spices, but I think it's worth it in the long run.
Putting it all together:
Alright we have our noodles, our Italian sausage, and our cheese sauce. Now where does the beer come in? The beer gets used as part of the liquid for the cheese sauce. After the Italian sausage is cooked with some diced onions, add in a bit of flour to coat the meat. Then add in the stout and let it get good and bubbly. Add in some milk for the remaining liquid and mix in that cheese. The result is a decadent cheese sauce with rich stout beer flavor. Pour it over some slightly undercooked cavatappi noodles, and top with a panko and parmesan mixture. Bake it until it's good and bubbly and brown on the top. Serve with a glass of stout because I know you bought a six-pack to make this recipe. Enjoy!
Stout Mac and Cheese with Pronghorn Italian Sausage
- 1 lb ground pronghorn
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon lard
Mac and Cheese
- 12 oz cavatappi pasta
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 10 oz medium cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 oz velveeta cheese
- 12 oz stout beer
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoon butter, melted
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix all spices together in a small bowl. Add to ground meat and add in red wine vinegar. Mix until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use, preferably overnight.
Mac and Cheese:
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- While preparing cheese sauce, cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Pasta will continue cooking in oven.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add lard to pan. Once lard is melted, add in Italian sausage. Spread meat out in pan so it browns evenly. Cook 2-3 minutes, flip the meat, then cook another 2-3 minutes.
- Add in diced onions, mix into meat, and cook an additional 3 minutes.
- Add in flour and stir to combine. Cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add in beer and stir to combine. Cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and starting to thicken.
- Add in milk, stir to combine and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add in cheeses and stir until melted, about 2-4 minutes.
- Pour sauce over cooked pasta and stir to combine.
- Grease one 9x13 pan or 2 8x8 pans. Pour mac and cheese into pan(s).
- Combine all bread crumb ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over mac and cheese.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are browned. Enjoy!
- Follow all preparation instructions except for baking. Pour mac and cheese into aluminum foil pan, cover with bread crumbs, and cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the food. Cover pan with aluminum foil.
- When ready to bake, thaw overnight (or 2 nights) under refrigeration. Remove plastic wrap but save the foil. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, at 375°F for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are browned. Enjoy!