Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jalapeño Beer Brat Macaroni and Cheese

To wrap up out football theme, I have some macaroni and cheese with all the quintessential Wisconsin fixings mixed into it. 

I made this at my boyfriend’s house. Big mistake. The most useful thing he had was a grill. Real bachelor kitchen. I should have known. It works for him apparently but it almost caused me a nervous breakdown. Now by no means do I have a ton of fancy pots and pans or equipment, but I do have some. Most of it is hand me downs. I might have overreacted to not having the things I’m used to cooking with. That should not be a surprise to anyone though. Cooking in a new place is stressful, but totally doable and you don’t need anything fancy to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.
The stuff in the blue box or Annie’s macaroni and cheese is wonderful, but you just can’t beat homemade macaroni and cheese. I think it is intimidating for most people, but even a sparsely equipped bachelor pad kitchen has the equipment to make it: medium sized saucepan, large pot to boil noodles and a baking dish.

I grilled the brats, but you could totally throw them in the oven or on the stove top, in a pan. If you grill the brats, don’t be like me and spend 6 minutes futzing around trying to take pictures.  The charcoal grill will get to hot with all that air and then everything will go up in flames and your brats will be split open and be flame cooked in 4 minutes.  Lesson learned.

It is all pretty straightforward. If you have never made a roux (butter and flour), don’t be scared. Keep and eye on it and stir constantly. This is what will thicken your cheese sauce. Once it is a light nutty brown, pour in your beer slowly and then the milk. This avoids clumps. Bring this mixture almost to a boil, which means for me where there are tons of tiny bubbles all around the edge of the pan. Add the cheese. Add the brats and peppers.

You’re going to probably look at this sauce and freak out like I did, thinking it is way to runny and that there is way too much of it. I know there can never be too much cheese, but proportions and balance are key to a solid mac. I know I freaked out, but it came out of the oven perfectly, with just the right amount of spice, which will depend on the heat of your jalapeños. 

It was even better the next day for lunch! I didn’t try it but I bet this would work great to make the day before, refrigerate and reheat in the oven at your friend’s house or before your own football party. Make it for any party really, it is delicious and oh-so very Wisconsin. I promise. 

for topping:
2 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup gruyere or fontina cheese, grated
1 jalapeno, grilled, seeded and chopped

for macaroni & cheese:
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated

1 jalapenos, grilled, seeded, chopped
1 poblano pepper, grilled, seeded, sliced into quarter inch pieces
4 brats, grilled (I used D&G Sausage Shop bacon and jalapeno brats)
1 lb pasta (such as cavatapi, fusulli or macaroni) cooked to al dente
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup amber or pilsner beer
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk

Start by heating your grill to medium heat. Place brats, two jalapenos and poblano pepper on the grill. Cook the peppers for 2 to 5 minutes, or until lightly charred. Cook the brats, turning, for 6 to 8 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400F, with rack in middle. Combine the butter, panko bread crumbs, cheddar, Gruyere and one jalapeno pepper, in a bowl, until well combined. Set aside for later.

Macaroni and Sauce
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted whisk in the flour, continue whisking for 3 minutes, until the mixture is a light golden color and thick, then slowly whisk in the beer and milk.

Increase the heat to medium and bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly (this takes about 8 minutes). Reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Stir in cheeses, until smooth. Add in the remaining jalapeno, poblano and brats. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes (a few minutes shy of done). Drain pasta in a colander. Combine the noodles and cheese sauce, until evenly coated. Transfer to a 9 x 12 baking dish, sprinkling topping over the pasta evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until topping is golden.


  1. This was fantastic and tasted great as leftovers all the way through.

    1. It really does reheat well. The perfect make ahead for a party or week of meals!

  2. Holy cow! This has to be the ultimate Wisconsin food.



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