The addition of smoked sausage to homemade mac-n-cheese is a welcome and delicious change from the traditional basic recipe. This can be made in advance and popped in the oven in time for dinner. This will serve a family of 4 – 5 with a little leftover. This can be made in advance and frozen, as well. Just tightly wrap dish first in plastic wrap, then in foil and freeze. Allow to thaw on counter for a few hours or overnight in fridge. Remove plastic wrap and foil before baking … reserving foil to loosely cover dish during first part of baking.
Preheat oven to 350º.
In large pot, cook half a box of elbow noodles until halfway done in heavily salted water. Drain water and pour noodles into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.
While the noodles are cooking, melt 3/4 of a stick of real butter in a large sauce pan on medium heat.
Sprinkle in all-purpose flour … roughly 3 tablespoons.
Whisk to combine, then allow a few minutes for raw taste of flour to cook out. (Whisk occasionally during this time.)
Next, add 3 – 4 cups of whole milk or a combination of milk and heavy cream to butter and flour mixture.
Whisk until cream sauce is smooth. Bring to a slow, low boil.
Reduce heat to low and season with salt, pepper and just a pinch of nutmeg (freshly ground is best!).
Begin to add about 1 1/2 cups of cubed Velveeta cheese. Whisk to incorporate and melt the cheese.
Then, stir in 4 – 6 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese (sharp is best, but mild is fine). Allow to fully melt into sauce.
A hefty dollop of sour cream can be added at this point for a tangy addition, if desired.
Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Turn off heat and pour sauce over elbow noodles in casserole pan. You’ll want the sauce to completely cover the noodles.
Sprinkle a cup of shredded cheddar cheese over top of casserole.
Thinly slice up a couple of cups of smoked sausage … whatever brand you prefer. (Our fave is Eckrich.)
“Stuff” the pieces of sausage all around in the mac-n-cheese straight up and down … leaving about half of the sausage sticking out from the top of the noodles. These parts will crisp up a bit and be extra delicious when done.
Cover the whole dish loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about one hour or until browning is just beginning on edges and top.
Uncover and continue to bake for 10 – 15 extra minutes or until cheese is all G.B.D. (golden, brown and delicious) on top.
Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before digging in!