Italian Mac-n-Cheese

This mac and cheese is such a hit in our house.  It was on a weekly rotation for quite a while.  
Then the kids decided they didn't like tomatoes.
They still think they don't...but I'm bringing it back on board.  They'll get over it.

Picture of Italian Mac-n-Cheese Recipe
Recipe courtesy foodnetwork.com
If you have everything set out and ready to go, you can certainly get this on the table in thirty minutes.
And!  It freezes beautifully! 
You can feed a very large family with this recipe...we usually prepare the entire thing and then freeze half of it.  

Italian Mac-N-Cheese
original recipe by Rachael Ray
Serves 6-8 people

1 lb penne rigata (or other tube pasta)
1 lb sweet sausage
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (we use an italian 4 cheese blend)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 tsp hot sauce, optional
1/2 cup Parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water and cook pasta to al dente, about 8 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet, brown and crumble the sausage.  Drain cooked crumbles on paper towel lined plate.  Return pan to heat and add extra virgin olive oil, butter, garlic and mushrooms.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Saute 3 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are lightly golden brown.

To mushrooms, add flour and stir, cooking 2 minutes.  Whisk in stock, then add cream and stir.  Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of cheese.  When cheese has melted, add tomatoes.  Bring sauce back to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.

Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta and transfer to baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining half cup shredded cheese and Parmesan over the top and brown under broiler.

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