Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Meatball Smothered Mac-n-Cheese

I started working on a concotion today and decided to food-blog it for you. First let me tell you- this is not a quick-make. It might have gone quicker if I did it all while the girls were napping, but I had to do it in steps to accomodate my children's need for mommy's attention.
Two much-loved dishes in this house are macaroni and cheese, and anything with marinara meat sauce. I decided to make a combo dish.

I decided to blog it after I'd gotten the meat mixture put together, so let me tell you what is in this bowl:

1 lb hamburger- the 85/15 kind.
lb italian sausage
one egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs soaked in 1/4 cup milk
italian seasoning
onion powder

if I had grated parmesan and fresh garlic, there'd be about a 1/2 cup of parmesan and two or three cloves of garlic. I didn't have that, but I found in my cupboard "Pampered Chef Parmesan Garlic Oil Dipping Seasoning"...so I sprinkled some of that in. Whatever works.

Mix it up good with your (clean) hands. Then take a small scooper like the one shown in the picture, and start making little meatballs to put into a preheated, pam-sprayed skillet:

Keep going. This makes lots of little balls. You could make big balls if you think size matters, but I wanted a bunch of little ones, like this:

After they brown on one side, gently turn them over either with a spatula or tongs. You have to be gentle with them at this stage in the game, they are still tender. After they brown some more, you can rough them up a little bit more. At this point, I'd put the lid on for quicker, more thorough cooking.

When they are done, pile them up on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

If you're well organized, while they were cooking you might have gotten a pot of water boiling and boiled 1 lb of your favorite pasta. You could go with the traditional macaroni, today I decided rotini sounded good.
Meatballs and cooked macaroni--set aside.
Let's make some cheese sauce!
In your now-empty pasta pot, throw in a stick of margarine or butter and let it melt. Don't let it burn. Once it's melted, whisk in about 1/3 cup of flour. Whisk it good so it doesn't get lumpy. Now...here is something I learned from the chef on our cruise; let it cook! "It" being the Roux you just made of butter and flour; it needs to cook a bit. About 5 minutes, it'll be all bubbly, pay attention to it and whisk it periodically.

Then, add some whole milk.... probably about 1 cup. I didn't do a lot of measuring today. I have whole milk because I have a one-year-old. When she outgrows whole milk, we'll probably be making this with the family-preferred milk of 1%. Whatever you've got I'm sure will work. Whisk it in and let it thicken up a little, but don't let it get too thick. If it does, add a little more milk.

You need cheese for Mac N Cheese. Today I chopped up about 10 oz of Velveeta and used about 2 cups of shredded cheddar. Stir it into the cream sauce and get it all melted.

We need to season this sauce. I did not take a picture. I don't know how Pioneer Woman does that. It has to take her hours to make a recipe. I don't have that kind of time! Anyways, season it with some salt, pepper, a little red pepper, maybe some lawry's. Whatever you choose. That's what I put in mine. I kept tasting the cheese sauce and adding more salt and pepper till I decided it was tasty. You can do more red pepper if you want some kick, but I need to keep this batch little-kid-friendly.

Dump in that previously cooked-and-drained pasta. Stir Stir Stir.

Put into a sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle with some more shredded cheese. I am doing two 9" square pans today; one for my family and one to take to my friend Debbi's new house so her kids don't have to search thru the moving boxes to find dinner tonight.

Remember the meatballs? They need a bath. Grab the skillet and wipe most of the grease out with a paper towel. It's okay to leave some stuff in the pan. It's just flavor. At this point I would tell you to use your favorite spaghetti sauce. If you make some from scratch, more power to ya. I usually have a can of Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce or Prego in the cupboard. Got to this point in the recipe and *gasp* no spaghetti sauce. Crap.

But I did find a can of tomato sauce, so I threw it in the skillet, doctored it up with some garlic powder, salt, onion powder, and sugar. Now it is close enough to spaghetti sauce.

Throw the meatballs in the pan and swirl them around in the sauce to get them coated. I did a few at a time because I had intended on not using ALL my balls for this recipe and freezing some for future use... but in the end decided to use them all.

Put them nicely on top of your macaroni, but don't get a lot of excess sauce, we just want the flavor not the full-on spaghetti effect. I was trying for rows but gave up. When you have the meatballs evenly distributed, spray a piece of foil and cover your pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until it is hot all the way through. (The baking time depends on if you assembled this and put it right in the oven, or if you it has been sitting in the fridge for awhile).

Now if you think about it; I have taught you two recipes today. Meatballs. and Homemade Mac N Cheese. You didn't know it was BOGO day here on littleworthwhilemoments did you!? You can easily make this batch of meatballs, and freeze half of them for future use in a freezer ziploc bag. Then you've got the makings of meatball subs, or spaghetti, or another batch of this, or whatever!
I really think you should try to make this version; but if you're ever in a pinch you could certainly get a box of shells-and-cheese, make it, top if off with some frozen meatballs that you've nuked in a bowl of canned spaghetti sauce, and serve it all together. But I think this would be yummier ;)
Enjoy, and if you make it, post a comment and tell me what you think!

1 comment:

Michelle Stottlemire said...

Yum! I shouldn't be reading your blog over an hour before lunch - now I'm hungry. Looks like great comfort food!