In addition to raising a family, taking care of my home, working 40+ hrs a week, and cooking delicious meals for my crew and many others, I'm also a crafter. I started crafting when I was a teenager and haven't stopped since.
Each year I choose an ornament to make and something from my kitchen to give as a gift. For the past 5 years or so I have been working with clay and dough. I really love it. It dries my hands out like crazy, but working with it is really a joy to me. I think if life had taken me in a different direction I would have been a photographer or a potter. I love the feel of the clay in my hands and the way I can transform it, and sculpt it and make it into something different. Each year I have people tell me how they think of me when they hang an ornament on their tree that I made for them. I think that is just about the coolest thing ever, and that's why I rack my brains each year to come up with something new and different for my friends and family to hang on their tree. It's not always clay, but it's always something I put thought and effort into, in hopes that it will be a present they love cause I made it with my very own hands and filled it with love. Corny as it sounds, it's true.
Since I knew I would be busy crafting all weekend I wanted a nice hearty dinner that I didn’t have to fuss with too much. This recipe was perfect. I copied it out of the November issue of Gourmet magazine a few weeks back. That very same day my friend Krysta over at Evil Chef Mom had made the same dish. Strange how people on totally different sides of the country pick out the same recipe from a magazine loaded with dozens and dozens of others to choose from. A accredit it to good taste.
I have to admit; the photo in Gourmet was what got me to take a second look at this. It was so rustic and cheesy. Two things I greatly admire in a recipe, plus it looked fairly simple to make and it was so good. I'm talking really good. It's creamy and cheesy and loaded with mushrooms and sausage and the top has that terrific crunchy cheese, oh that was the best part. I had to stop John from hogging all the crispies for himself!
I made 1 addition to this recipe, some fresh parsley. I also cooked the sausage before I had the penne ready, cause I knew it would take a few mintues to get that cooked. I think the next time I make this, it would be fabulous with some caramelized onions in it. Yum!
You make - you like!
Sausage and Mushroom Penne Gratin
1 pound dried penne
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 lb package of sliced mushroom (I used two 8 oz packages of baby bellas)
1 garlic clove, forced through a garlic press (ONE???…I used 2)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup grated Parmigano-Reggiano
8 oz shredded whole milk mozzarella divided
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Reserve a ½ cup of the cooking water then drain and transfer to a flameproof 3-quart baking dish.
Meanwhile cook the sausage in 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces, until no longer pink. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl leaving the fat in the skillet.
Pre-heat the broiler.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet along with the mushrooms and garlic. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden (about 3 minutes).
Return the sausage to the skillet along with the cream, reserved ½ cup cooking water and a rounded ½ teaspoon salt and a ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Boil over high heat, stirring once or twice until thickened (about 4 minutes).
Pour over the pasts then stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano, ½ cup mozzarella and salt to taste. Spread evenly in baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella.
Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat until golden brown in spots (about 5 minutes).