Don’t you just want to grab a serving spoon and dig into that corner right there? I know I want to. A couple weeks ago, The Neighbor Wife asked me for a good macaroni and cheese recipe. And I had nothing. Nothing to give her. Well, let me correct that. I love this one on the TGIF’s menu and make it occasionally. I also love Patti LaBelle’s Over the Rainbow Mac and Cheese (tastes even better the second day). And my sister has a great one from a vegetarian cookbook that she first made some 15+ years ago (and we all enjoyed again last week for Sophie’s birthday). But those are all more grown-up versions. I don’t have a go-to standard mac and cheese … even after all the, ahem, research we do. So sad.
Until last week. My mom was fixing a plate of lunch for the dog (who is like the fifth grandchild in our family, if not even higher up on the family tree, at the very least) and he was getting mac and cheese, leftover from a previous night’s dinner. Madeline happened to see the plate go past her nose and started whining for some, so she got her very own plate, right along with the dog. I stole a piece of hers, since it was a new recipe my mom had tried out. Hours later, I emailed her for the recipe. Winner, winner, mac and cheese dinner.
Although you might wrinkle your nose at the ketchup that goes into the recipe, or perhaps the Dijon mustard, this recipe is definitely worth making, particularly if you’ve been on a similar hunt for “the” mac and cheese dish yourself. Madeline has been on a hot dog kick lately, so the addition of hot dogs to the dish makes it all the better. And, um, it’s quite possible that I used cheese hot dogs to up the cheesy quota a tad. Just sayin’.
The recipe comes from Rachael Ray, and is one of her 30 minute meals. Even playing traffic cop in the kitchen admidst the dog, who sometimes refuses to lie anywhere but right behind me, and the kids who keep racing in and out, the recipe was done in 30 minutes. I like them apples. Cheesy creaminess with every bite, it also has that nice browned crust on top that just makes a mac and cheese, well, perfect in my book.
On the hunt for the recipe to, well, stop the hunt? Try this one. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Even if the dog got to try it first.
Macaroni and Cheese Dog Casserole
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray
SERVES 4 -6
1 lb elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 (16 ounce) package beef hot dogs or pork hot dogs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup beer or chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 cups yellow sharp cheddar cheese, divided (buy preshredded cheese, you will need 1 1/2 sacks of 10-ounce packages)
Boil a large pot of water for macaroni. Salt water and under cook macaroni, cook about 7 minutes until just under al dente in doneness. Preheat broiler and set rack 12 inches from heat.
While pasta works, heat a large deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, then add hot dogs and brown on both sides, 4 minutes total. Remove the dogs with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Add another tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, and the butter. When butter melts, cook onions 4 to 5 minutes, then add flour and cook another minute. Add beer/chicken broth and cook off completely, 1 minute. Whisk in milk and bring to a bubble, then season sauce with salt and pepper and stir in mustard and ketchup. Lower heat and add 2 cups of the cheese. Stir to melt, about 1 minute. Adjust mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper to taste.
Drain pasta well. Combine pasta and hot dogs with sauce and coat evenly, then pour into large (13 x 9) casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Melt and brown cheese under broiler, about 2 minutes. Serve and enjoy!