Chicken · dinner · pasta

Pimiento Cheese and Mac with Chicken Sausage

It baffles me that there are still people in this world that don’t know what pimiento cheese is. What?! How can this be?!?!

I basically grew up on the neon-orange cheese spread. Big globs of the stuff nestled between two slices of white bread. That was my ultimate lunch on those sticky-hot dog days of summer. FullSizeRender (324)

When you talk to people outside of the southeastern states of America though, they look at you all crazy-eyed when you try to explain pimiento cheese. Pimiento cheese, in itself, actually sounds really weird as a sandwich filler. Shredded cheddar (or American) cheese, mixed with mayonnaise, mixed with tiny pimientos. So simple, yet so strange.

I’ve had plenty of fancy pimiento cheeses in my lifetime—including a smoked gouda one that is TOPS. But I still find myself craving the original O.G.—that bright orange, speckled spread. That is a sandwich worth craving!FullSizeRender (327)

I dug up this recipe the other day and was smitten immediately. If there’s one thing better than pimiento cheese sandwiches, it’s macaroni and cheese. This mac & cheese recipe doesn’t actually include pimiento cheese spread, but the cheese sauce is made with shredded cheddar cheese and jarred pimientos. Add in some cayenne for a spicy kick and WOW! This mac & cheese almost makes you forget about your pimiento cheese obsession all together. FullSizeRender (316)

Pimiento Cheese & Mac with Chicken Sausage

  • 12 oz. small elbow macaroni
  • 2 bunches broccolini (about 1 pound) chopped
  • 3 TBS. unsalted butter
  • 4 links sweet Italian chicken sausage, sliced
  • 2 TBS. all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 (4 oz) jar chopped pimientos, drained
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. Add chopped broccolini during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain macaroni and broccolini and rinse under cold water. FullSizeRender (319)
  2. In a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven, melt 2 TBS. of butter over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Remove cooked sausage to a plate and set aside.FullSizeRender (317)
  3. Add flour to sausage drippings and stir, cook for about 30 seconds. Whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened about 3 minutes.FullSizeRender (318)
  4. Whisk in the cream cheese until mixture is smooth, then stir in the shredded Cheddar cheese, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Stir in pimientos.FullSizeRender (320)
  5. Add pasta and broccolini and sausages to the pot and stir until everything is well coated with cheese sauce. FullSizeRender (322)FullSizeRender (321)
  6. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a small bowl and add panko, stir it until it is evenly coated. Sprinkle panko mix over the top of the mac & cheese and broil in oven for a few minutes until breadcrumbs are browned.FullSizeRender (323)

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I ate this fancy mac & cheese for daysss after I made it. It was so good! Everything I love about pimiento cheese and macaroni and cheese combined, plus my new favorite veggie broccolini. FullSizeRender (325)

Broccolini can be a little on the pricey side (mine was damn near $5 a bunch) but it is well worth it. They are basically sweeter than regular sized broccoli and their taste is more intense. I can’t get enough of the stuff! FullSizeRender (315)

 

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