"If you like apple pie with cheddar on top, this is your dream casserole," Rach says of this fall twist on mac and cheese she cooked in her Halloween costume — the gopher from the 1980 movie "Caddyshack." (John dressed up as Bill Murray's character, Carl!)
In honor of Halloween, John paired Rach's dish with a festive sparkling cocktail he's dubbed Bobbing For Apples.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 small crisp apples or 2 medium-large, peeled and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- About ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground clove or pumpkin spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or smoked cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup cider
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 cups half 'n' half
- Salt and white pepper or fine black pepper
- 1 pound macaroni or short-cut pasta of choice
- 3 cups grated cheddar, white or yellow
- 1 ½ cups crushed white or yellow cheddar crackers
- One handful parsley, chopped
- About ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 8 brats (bratwurst or sausages of any kind, we like Weisswurst, veal and pork)
- 2 tablespoons oil, olive or neutral
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Salt and white or fine black pepper
- 1 pound sauerkraut with caraway in refrigerated sack or jar
- ½ cup water or stock
For the apple mac & cheese, heat a large pot of water for the pasta to boil.
Preheat oven to 400˚F with rack at center.
Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat with butter, add onions, apples and bay, season with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, zest, thyme and brown sugar, soften 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle flour over top and stir a minute, whisk in cider, stock and half and half, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a bubble and thicken sauce to coat back of spoon in thin layer, 6 to 7 minutes at low bubble over medium-low simmer.
Cook pasta in salted water about 6 minutes, then drain.
Stir cheese into sauce a few handfuls at a time.
Toss pasta with sauce and apples and place in casserole dish.
Combine cracker crumbs with parsley and Parm and top pasta. Brown and bubble, cool 5 minutes and serve.
For the brats & sauerkraut, parboil sausages to heat through in an inch of water, transfer to a platter, empty pan, wipe, return to medium heat with oil, 2 turns of pan. Melt butter into oil and saute onions with bay, salt and white pepper or fine black pepper. Soften 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to light golden. Add the sauerkraut to onions and add the sausages back to pan, add water or stock, simmer 5 minutes, and serve.