I was trying to use up some ingredients in the fridge and thought I’d try to make an Italian Mac and Cheese… I had the already assembled the main ingredients when I took a look at a recipe from Rachael Ray… and decided to try her version of the recipe… with just a few changes… it turned out to be what .. in this house .. we call a “do-over” … a recipe we will definitely make again.
Her recipe was a bit bland… so I made some changes…her recipe calls for ground Italian sweet sausage… we like a little zip… so I used 2 links of hot Italian sausage and 2 links of sweet Italian sausage… I just cooked them and sliced them.
I also added more seasoning… the canned tomatoes I used were Hunts Tomatoes with Basil Garlic and Oregano. I also added some Italian seasoning to the recipe. Since I made the “parts” ahead to speed the cooking time up at night… I baked the dish rather than just putting it under the broiler.
The recipe is a bit rich… it uses heavy cream that can easily be substituted with milk… which I will do when I make it again… just add some more flour… about 1 more tablespoon.
I par boil the sausages for about 10 minutes .. then take them out and cook them in the skillet... this way they cook through and don't get overly dark and crusty when I cook them in the skillet.
My sausage didn’t render a lot of grease, so I needed to add more butter than her recipe called for… I highly recommend you don’t substitute using all olive oil for the butter in the recipe.. the butter flavor adds to the flavor of the sauce.
I would definitely bake the casserole… it came out of the oven bubbly … and really good… we baked the leftovers the next night… and they were even better.
This is different spin on macaroni and cheese… one I think you will like!
Recipe: Italian Mac and Cheese
All you need:
1 pound rotini, cooked
2 links of hot Italian sausage, cooked and sliced
2 links of sweet Italian sausage, cooked and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pkg. (8 oz.) of mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream or milk (see Tips)
2 ½ cups shredded Italian 4 cheese blend
1 can Hunts Diced Tomatoes with Basil Garlic and Oregano, well drained
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
½ cup Parmesan cheese
All you have to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the rotini according to package directions, drain and set aside.
Cook the Italian sausage, allow to cool enough to handle. Slice and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 3-5 minutes until mushrooms are soft.
Add the flour and stir well… cook for about 2 minutes to cook off the flour taste… then add the chicken stock, whisking until everything is well mixed.
Add the cream or milk and stir well.
Bring the sauce to a bubble. .. then add 2 cups of the shredded cheese, stirring well.
After the cheese has melted, add the drained canned tomatoes, stir well.
Add the Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cooked macaroni back into the pot you made the macaroni in. add the sliced sausage and stir to mix well.
Add the sauce to the pot and mix well. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 Baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese and parmesan cheese over the casserole.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned.
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