Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Italian Mac-n-Cheese

Mom says there's "such a vast gap [between] your nouveau recipes and my 1950s-origin recipes." She also says that I eat such healthy food, probably because we never ate vegetables when I was young. So to dispel the myth: we certainly ate lots of vegetables when I was a kid. They were just very basic dishes, not really worth calling a "recipe". We ate beets and baked potatoes and peas and steamed broccoli and steamed cauliflower and all sorts of fresh garden vegetables... And now, I eat PLENTY of food that could be considered less than healthy (usually, it's the other half of the week when I grab food on the way home). Sometimes I cook the unhealthy food at home, because I ALWAYS crave the "1950s-origin" comfort food!

--1 lb Ziti, Penne or Cavatappi Pasta, cooked al dente
--1 lb Bulk Sweet Italian Sausage
--2 tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil
--1 tbsp Butter
--3 or 4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
--12 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced (or other mushroom variety)
--Salt and fresh-ground Black Pepper
--2 tbsp Flour
--1 cup Chicken Stock
--1 cup Heavy Cream
--2 1/2 cups Italian Cheeses (Provolone, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano), shredded. Usually, you can find this 4-cheese blend in the supermarket.
--1 can Diced Tomatoes, drained well
--1 tsp Hot Sauce (optional)
--1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Cook the pasta al dente. Crumble the sausage into a non-stick skillet and brown. Drain sausage on a paper-towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add the olive oil, butter, garlic and mushrooms. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Saute 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms are lightly golden. (Now, Preheat broiler to high.) Add flour to the mushrooms and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken stock, then stir in cream. Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of the 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 a casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of 4-cheese blend and the grated Parmesan over the top. Brown under the hot broiler.

From the Food Network's Rachael Ray.

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