Mac & Cheese with Pears
Shirley Bomgaars, Kingston
Homemade macaroni and cheese with the added surprise of diced pears. A nice pairing (if you'll excuse the pun!) with the cheese sauce. I like to add sliced Aidell's Apple and Chicken Sausage for a main dish, but leave it out to use as a side dish. For me, a recipe is a base to start with. I often mix it up with different cheeses. Tillamook smoked cheddar is wonderful in this recipe!
1 8-ounce package elbow macaroni, or your favorite pasta
1/4 cup butter
1/4 onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
21/2 tablespoons flour, or as needed
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1 12-ounce package fully-cooked sausage, sliced (optional)
1 pear, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup crushed croutons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water according to package directions. Drain macaroni and pour into the prepared casserole dish.
While the water is boiling, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir onions in the melted butter until partially translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper. Stir in flour until paste-like in consistency, 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly, until flour mixture is incorporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheddar cheese and bleu cheese until completely melted and sauce has thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.
Pour cheese sauce into macaroni; stir to coat. Stir in sausage, if desired. Stir pears into macaroni mixture. Stir 2 tablespoons melted butter and crushed croutons together in a small bowl; sprinkle over macaroni mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is bubbling and topping is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
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