I made up this dish as I was making it. I had an opened package of sausages in my fridge that needed to be used as well as some apples. I was inspired by some mac & cheese with apples that I ate in 1988 in Switzerland. Yes, I still was thinking of it 25 years later…. Being the first of December it was feeling firmly mid-autumn on the California Central Coast, and this seemed like a seasonally appropriate dish. The organic Fuji apples were grown at Bellvue’s See Canyon Farms 1-1/2 miles down the road from our house; you can barely get any more local than that!
This recipe is for 4 servings, and is hearty enough to eat on its own.
From Trader Joe’s:
- 16 oz. package of organic brown rice penne pasta
- 1/2 lb. block of English cheddar with caramelized onions
From New Frontiers:
- 4 sausages with apples & gouda cheese
- 3 Bellevue’s See Canyon Farms organic Fuji apples, chopped in 1/3″ cubes
- 2 cups 2% or whole milk, depending on how rich you want the sauce to be. You could even use cream.
- 4 T. unsalted organic butter
From my pantry:
- garlic powder (you can use fresh garlic, which could be sauteed with the roux)
- sea salt
- ground cinnamon
1. Fill a large non-stick pot with water, add about 2 tsp. salt, and bring to a rolling boil.
2. While you’re waiting for the water to boil preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high.
3. Wash, dry, and chop the apples.
4. Add 2 T. butter to the cast iron skillet, and just as it melts add the apples and stir immediately to coat the apples with the butter.
5. By now the water should be coming to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, and set a timer for 7 minutes (for perfect al dente texture). Stir the pasta immediately a few times, and then stir it before you drain it. This is so it doesn’t stick to the pot or clump together.
6. Stir the apples frequently so they don’t burn, and that they start to lightly caramelize evenly. Don’t let them get past medium caramel. Remove the apples and put them in a bowl. Actually, I did this, because our daughter is a vegetarian, so I needed to keep the apples and sausage separate. If no one minds the apples and sausage mixing, add the sausage to the apples just when they barely start browning, and finish browning them together in the cast iron skillet.
7. In a large glass measuring cup measure 2 cups milk and microwave for 3 minutes.
8. Right when the 7 minute timer for the pasta rings drain the pasta in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water to arrest the cooking.
9. In the same non-stick pot used to cook the pasta place on medium high heat and add 2 T. butter and 2 T. flour to form a roux. Stir while cooking for a few minutes just until the roux turns very pale straw/brown.
10. Add the hot milk 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well between additions and smashing any clumps with the back of the spoon to form a smooth sauce. Before adding each addition 1/2 cup of milk let the sauce heat up again when it just starts to bubble (this happens quickly).
11. Add cinnamon, garlic powder, and salt to taste. I used about 2 tsps. cinnamon, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. salt.
12. Once all the milk is incorporated to the roux let it simmer for a few minutes, then add the grated cheese and stir continuously.
13. Once all the cheese is melted, and the sauce is smooth add the caramelized apples and pasta and stir well.
14. Serve in pasta bowls, and top with the browned sausage (if it isn’t already mixed into the pasta with the apples).
15. Add freshly ground pepper if desired.