My folks spent about 20 years living in Texas, about 10 of which I was around for. In that time, my Dad mastered many essential Texan dishes. One of which is his delicious conqueso dip. Melty Velveeta, Rotel chilis and breakfast sausage; it’s a game-day essential in our family now! Last Sunday (during the Packers win – Go Pack!) we started calling it ‘Crack Dip.’
I made a dinner version of my Daddy’s dip incorporating all those great flavors: Conqueso Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I make so much mac’n’cheese that my fireman thinks I should make a weekly feature on the blog on my endless variations. Good thing we both love pasta and cheese!
Conqueso Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Serves 4 – cost approx $1.36 per serving
- 1 lb short pasta, cooked al dente ($.89)
- 1/2 lb breakfast sausage – either bulk sausage or removed from the casings ($.99)
- 1 onion ($.28)
- 1/2 bell pepper ($.39)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups pasta water
- 1 1/2 cups milk ($.28)
- 1 cup shredded cheese, divided use ($.63)
- 8 oz Velveeta, cubed ($.99)
- 3 Tbs chopped herbs – I used green onions and parsley ($.25)
- 1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis, drained ($.50)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
*Note – to make this a true ‘One Pot Wonder’ boil up the pasta first while you prep all the other ingredients, reserving a few cups of the pasta water and setting the drained pasta aside. Then make the sauce in the pasta pot.*
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Start by browning up the sausage and breaking it into small pieces in a large, oven safe pot. Throw in the onion and bell pepper and saute along side the sausage for 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour to make a little roux with the sausage fat, stir 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the pasta water and milk, being sure to scrape up all the brown goodies on the bottom. Bring to a simmer, let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add in half the shredded cheese and the Velveeta and let melt in the sauce. When the cheese is melted, taste and add salt to taste. Stir in the herbs, drained tomatoes with chilis and cooked pasta. Mix the bread crumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle over the top. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes or until the top is browned and crispy. Enjoy!