I know I always talk about trying to make things healthier but there are just times you want a good ol' mac and cheese right? The idea for this one popped into my head when we were shopping. I was picking up some Italian sausage for the Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs and right next to it was Johnsonville's Beer and Brat bratwurst. For whatever reason it just logically turned into a mac and cheese in my head (I know it is a strange place in there sometimes) so I grabbed a package of it and took it back to the cart. When Kevin saw the package he thought I had grabbed the wrong thing and pointed out that the meatballs would probably taste a little strange made with bratwurst instead of sausage. I paused before I responded just long enough for him to get a strange look on his face as he thought I might actually be planning on making them that way. After giggling a bit I told him it was for a new mac and cheese I wanted to make. Of course this idea he was completely on board with. I mean Guy+Beer+Brats = Happy right?
I even went a step farther and stopped by our local brewery, The 7 Seas, to grab some of their beer to make the cheese sauce with. After talking with one of the girls there about what kind of beer I should use we settled on one of their seasonal brews they just came up with. It is simply called Brown Ale. After tasting it I knew it would be perfect for the dish. Oh, by the way, the have the best beer ever!!
This mac and cheese turned out sooooo good. Definitely not like any other mac and cheese I have made thanks to the beer in the sauce. We really enjoyed it, Kevin ate his so fast he was back in the kitchen for seconds before I had half of my bowl gone!! I can't wait to make this one for the kids when they come over!
Beer and Brat Mac and Cheese
1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound bratwurst (I used Johnsonville's Beer and Brat bratwurst), casings removed
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Cracked black pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup beer (I used 7 Seas Brown Ale)
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 3 quart baking dish with non stick spray.
In a large pot cook macaroni just shy of al dente. You want it to still have a good amount of bite to it as it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain and return to pot
Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat butter over medium-high heat. Once it melts whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, then whisk in the beer, milk, and mustard. Continue stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 2 cups of the cheddar cheese and all of the Fontina cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese has completely melted. Remove from the heat.
In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Push the onions and garlic off to the sides of the skillet and crumble the bratwurst into the center of the pan. Using a wooden spoon continue to break the meat up. Cook until there is no pink remaining.
Add your meat mixture and cheese sauce to the pot with the macaroni, stir to combine. Pour mixture into the baking dish, top with the remaining cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly.