Mardi Gras is here! And with all the drinking that’s bound to happen, you better fill up on something hearty & flavorful, with all the authentic notes of cajun cooking. Add in creamy, cheesy macaroni, spicy sausage, onion, and bell pepper and you’ve got a winning combination that you will want to make year-round with this binge-worthy Cajun Mac and Cheese. Tip: I make a big batch of this, plus a couple of smaller servings so I can either eat it for lunch that week, or freeze and save for a week later. This meal-in-one is a hit at any group gathering or even a quiet dinner at home with a small toast. Just make sure you aren’t on a diet when you make this – not only is it definitely NOT diet friendly, you will be driven to cheat on any diet with this sitting in front of you. Cheers!

Cajun Mac and Cheese

1 lb pasta (any small kind can be used, like elbow, bowtie, or penne)

13 oz kielbasa, thinly sliced (or if you can find it, hot cajun sausage)

1 med onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

4 oz cream cheese

2 tsp Cajun seasoning (recipe below, or use Tony Chachere’s blend)

8 oz (2 cups) extra sharp cheddar

8 oz (2 cups) gruyere

Cajun Seasoning

4 parts salt

3 parts cayenne

3 parts black pepper

3 parts granulated garlic

1 part cumin

1 part paprika

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown sausage, about 1 min per side. Set aside and wipe out skillet.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the skillet over medium-low heat, adding the onion, pepper, salt and pepper to taste, and garlic. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring, until soft.
  4. Add flour by sprinkling it over the onion mixture, and stir in. Cook about 1 minute. Then whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the cream cheese and Cajun seasoning. Allow cream cheese to melt and mix in with other ingredients. Slowly add in the cheese, and continue stirring as it melts to prevent clumping.
  6. Toss the pasta in with the sauce, fold in the sausage, and bake for 10-12 minutes in a 3 qt. dish, or 6 2-cup ramekins.

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