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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cheesy Potato and Smoked Sausage Casserole

Well, we have discovered yet another food that Aaron does not like: smoked sausage.  As disappointed as I am, I have come to a point where I just don't think I need to cook around his tastes quite so much.  So what if he doesn't like smoked sausage.  Bailey does.  I think from now on I'll cook around her tastes more than his.

Tonight was new recipe night.  I have had this particular recipe planned for over a month.  I had hoped to get it on the menu before it got hot outside because it's the kind of meal that warms your bones.  The schedule didn't work out that way, but it would be perfect for a snow day.

I was a little frustrated with this recipe because it took much longer than I had anticipated to actually get the whole thing together.  I had read the recipe through so I knew how long it would take to bake, but I must have missed where it said that the potatoes had to be boiled ahead of time and the smoked sausage had to brown before adding it to the potatoes.  I also realized when I was about to start on the cheese sauce that I had run out of milk and had to go out to get another gallon.

I think now that I've made it once and know what to expect, this will be an easy recipe to get together.

The original recipe called for Velveeta cheese.  Now, you may not have a problem with Velveeta (I know plenty of people like it, including my best friend who always makes her homemade macaroni and cheese with it), but I don't happen to like it.  I think it is too salty and has a funny melting texture.  I understand that these are the same reasons that many people like it.

When I say "funny melting texture" what I mean is... well... have you ever made homemade nachos?  You know how when you sprinkle that cheese over the chips and let it melt it gets stringy and kind of chewy?  That's the way I like my cheese.  Velveeta melts completely smooth.

The funny thing is, even though I know that smooth-melting is the exact quality needed for this recipe, I just can't bring myself to use it.  Therefore I substituted Colby cheese for the Velveeta.  Since the cheese was mixed into a sauce it didn't have any adverse effects on the dish and I happen to really love the flavor of Colby cheese.

Use what you prefer, but just know that it's much easier to make the Velveeta into a nice smooth sauce.

Cheesy Potato and Smoked Sausage Casserole

1-1 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled (about 3-4 medium sized potatoes)
1 lb smoked sausage (I like the Hillshire Farms turkey smoked sausage)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Boil the potatoes, drain and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the smoked sausage into 3 pieces.  Cut each piece in half length wise.  Chop each piece into 1/4 inch half moon shapes.  Place the smoked sausage in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sausage is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Gently toss the potatoes and sausage together to mix, then pour them into an 8x8 inch baking dish.  In a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and mix with a wire whisk.  Add the milk and bring just to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the Velveeta cheese.

Stir with the whisk until all of the cheese is melted into the sauce.

Pour the whole sauce mixture over the potatoes and sausage. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Return to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Serve warm.

It was delicious with steamed broccoli.  Something about pairing broccoli with anything else that has cheese sauce is just... right.

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