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Italian Mac 'n Cheese

This hearty meal serves four – with leftovers. It's sure to become a family favorite, so bring your appetite!

Ingredients

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

  • 1 pound Italian bulk sweet sausage

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 12 crimini mushrooms, sliced

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 sack shredded Italian 4-cheese blend (10 ounces or 2 1/2 cups), available on dairy aisle

  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained well

  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco brand (optional)

  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, a couple of handfuls

Preparation

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

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

Pre-heat broiler to high.

To mushrooms, add flour and stir, cooking two minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in cream. Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in two 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 ovensafe 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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