I am pulling a recipe out of the vault of my family’s favorite recipes this week! I wrote this down watching a Food Network show 10+ years ago and have been making it ever since. Yes I wrote it down and didn’t print it! I think it was a Rachael Ray recipe but I’m not sure so thank you to whoever shared it first! I have tweaked it slightly over the years but didn’t change much because it’s pretty perfect. You just can’t go wrong with a homemade Italian cheese sauce, Italian sausage, buttery garlic mushrooms, and the tomatoes that brighten it all up!
Italian Mac N Cheese is a 30 minute meal that tastes like you worked for hours. If you want the process to move quickly, my biggest piece of advice is to prep everything ahead of time. Measure out the broth and cream, chop the mushrooms, mince the garlic, etc. While you’re prepping, start boiling your water too. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the less stressed you’ll be when you’re cooking. This dish is really fun to make!
I prefer to use crimini or baby bella mushrooms in this over button mushrooms because they have more flavor. Side note, my kids HATE mushrooms but still love this dish. They are easy to pick out!
Have you ever made a roux? Knowing how to make one is such a useful cooking skill because you’ll be able to make the most delicious homemade sauces and gravy. You do have to make one in the dish but it is so easy! It’s basically flour and fat cooked together to thicken a sauce. In this case, the fat is the butter and olive oil that the mushrooms are cooked in. Just sprinkle the flour on, cook for a minute or two, then add the liquid.
This is one of those dishes that will impress dinner guests because they’ll think you’ve been cooking all day. I have made it countless times over the years for company and everyone loves it. Because it’s a 30 minute meal, it is also great for busy week nights. It makes a lot too and makes great leftovers (if you don’t devour it all)! This is a win-win kind of meal!
Italian Mac N Cheese
- 1 lb penne pasta, cooked according to box directions
- 1 lb mild Italian bulk sausage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
- 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat a large non-stick skillet (broiler safe) to medium-high heat. Cook and crumble sausage until brown then drain and set aside. Add olive oil and butter to the pan then add garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes or until mushrooms are brown and soft.
- Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir to make a pasty roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and heavy cream. Bring to a low boil then stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese blend.
- When the cheese melts, add tomatoes, salt, and pepper then stir. Bring to a boil then add pasta and sausage. Stir until everything is well combined.
- Turn off heat and sprinkle remaining cheese blend over the top. Place skillet in oven under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- If you do not have a broiler safe skillet, just transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle on cheeses and place under broiler.