Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Smoked Sausage and Alfredo Noodles

Today’s dish  is one of my wife’s delicious creations, seen here in a slightly modified form, dumbed down if you will, for the Kung Fu Cooking Guy and my average skills.

Some of you will notice an uncanny resemblance between this dish and the immensely popular macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. (Note: the Kung Fu Cooking Guy refuses to use the term “wiener”.)  Your undeniable powers of observation are not without merit.  Our dinner of Smoked Sausage and Alfredo Noodles takes as its foundation the concept of combining a tasty sausage product with a familiar pasta dish.  Call it unsophisticated if you must but such things have no effect on the overall yumminess of our dinner or the speed with which it vanishes from the pot.

Tonight, or I should say a few nights ago because I have fallen a little behind on this story, our weapon of choice is the cast iron skillet.  The one I am using has a nice wooden handle to keep me from burning my hands half the time, weighs about as much as the engine block from a ’73 Buick, and proudly wears the residue inside and outside of the many meats and vegetables that have been cooked in it.  In polite circles this is referred to as seasoning.  I call it the stuff that keeps the pan from rusting.

It is the sausage that I will be cooking in the cast iron skillet.  I take my trusty knife and my trusty cutting board and cut the smoked sausage into 1/8 - 1/4 inch slices.  When I am done I have a pile of meat discs which I dump into the skillet and cook on low.  There is nothing fancy going on with this dish, so if you were looking for something insightful here, I have sad news for you.

While the smoked sausage discs are sautéing nicely in their own juices, I am going to get to work on the second half of my two-part dish, the Alfredo noodles.

Now before we go any further, I feel I should give you a little word of caution.  This is a cooking story by a guy, which I’m sure most of you have probably figured out by now.  Being a guy, I take a pretty simple approach.  There isn’t going to be any mixing of flour and eggs to make past dough, or blending of cheeses and cream to make the sauce.  This is not to say that making pasta from flour and eggs may not ever happen because I have done that in the past, but tonight my Alfredo noodles are coming out of a package.

I understand if this sounds anathema to you, but right now I see a lot of other guys out there nodding their heads and thinking “Yeah, I’m totally down with that.”  So let’s keep going with it because as soon as I’m done with the cooking I’m going to get into the eating.

For this dish I’m using two packages of Knorr Alfredo Pasta Sides.  First, I bring some water, milk and butter to boil, then I insert the noodles and sauce mix and turn it down to simmer.  It is so easy to forget to turn down the heat and keep stirring the sauce.  More than once I have wound up with burned cheese soup.  So when it says “Stir constantly” on the package, that’s what I do.

Ok, so it doesn’t have to be constant, but it does have to be frequent, and it has to be for the next eight to ten minutes.  The noodles in the pan, they bubble in the sauce and it makes the whole house smell good.  If you like, and I do, add a bit of garlic powder to make the noodles taste even better.  When it’s done I let it stand for a few minutes so that it can “thicken upon standing”.  I find that I usually thicken upon standing, but that’s another story.

Now comes the next important step, where I bring the two separate portions of my meal together into a single entity that becomes dinner.  And the strategy I will use to bring about this finale?  The care, the discipline, the practiced ease?  None of that, of course, because I’m a guy.  I pick up the skillet and dump the sausage into the noodles.

And so I have finally achieved the miracle of Smoked Sausage and Alfredo Noodles.  Now I just apply fork, insert into mouth and repeat until the plate is empty.  If, like me, you’ve made this dinner for your wife and a house full of boys but the boys haven’t come downstairs to find out what smells so good, then you might have a chance to go back for more.

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