Saturday, February 13, 2010

Italian Mac n Cheese

I found this in my Google Reader on Living Insanity's Loving Food on Friday and marked it with the intent of making it that night for dinner. Plans changed and I pushed it instead to tonight.

When BAJ asked what dinner tonight was, I suspect he rolled his eyes to hear that I was making mac n cheese, which is certainly not typically a meal he enjoys. He came in as I was cooking and said, "there's mushrooms in this mac n cheese? and sausage?" Clearly, his interest was piqued, and he realized this was not the typical mac n cheese recipe.

I didn't know what bulk sausage was (until I was already cooking and looked it up). It apparently is those Jimmy Dean sausages that are in the frozen section, and not the typical Italian sausage that I used. It would be interesting to try it that way too.

I also bought 8 oz of Italian cheese. I just went and sprinkled shredded mozzarella on top.

Finally, I went to Acme for what I needed. Acme is not known for having fancy stuff. The only mushrooms in their case were white and portobello, so I went for the on sale sliced white mushrooms.

  • 1 pound ziti rigate, penne rigate or cavatappi (ribbed, hollow corkscrews)
  • 1 pound Italian bulk sweet sausage I used Italian sweet sausage
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 12 crimini mushrooms, sliced pkg of sliced white mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (10-ounce) sack, 2 1/2 cups, shredded Italian 4 cheese blend, available on dairy aisle
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco), optional
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, a couple of handfuls


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy 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.
Preheat broiler to high.
To mushrooms, add flour and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in cream. Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of 4 cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce, add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.
Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta, transfer to baking dish, casserole or oven safe serving platter. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of 4 cheese blend and the grated Parmesan over the top and brown under hot broiler.

My husband really liked this. He went back for seconds, which is unusual for him. Due to the broiling, it didn't have the "hard pasta" that he dislikes so much.
My 2 year old son really liked this. He asked for seconds as well, and ate the sausage, which is unusual for him.
I thought it was a little on the bland side. I wish I had added more Tabasco, or wonder if the Cremini mushrooms would have added more flavor, or using all Italian cheese blend. I would like to try the suggestions of the reviewers on food network's website and add another can of tomatoes or maybe some spinach for some more flavor and veggies!
Definite keeper in these parts!
Pictures coming soon!

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails