Italian Mac-n-Cheese

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 servings, plus leftovers
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Ingredients

1 pound ziti rigate, penne rigate or cavatappi (ribbed, hollow corkscrews)

1 pound Italian bulk sweet sausage

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped

12 crimini mushrooms, sliced

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

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy al dente, about 8 minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. Preheat broiler to high.
  4. 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.
  5. Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta, transfer to flameproof baking dish, casserole or flameproof serving platter. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of 4 cheese blend and the grated Parmesan over the top and brown under hot broiler.
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