Penne Gratin with Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms
Makes 6 servings
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1 lb dried penne rigate
½ lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
½ lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb fennel, stalk and leaves removed, sliced
10 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
12 oz shredded mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until very al dente –it should have a definite bite to it. Drain and allow to cool on a baking or casserole dish.
In the meantime, cook the sausage in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Using your spatula, break up the pieces of meat as much as you can until fully browned. Transfer to the baking dish.
Using the fat left in the pan, sauté the fennel until translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until golden brown. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional two minutes. Cover the mixture with the heavy cream and simmer over high heat until reduced by half, about four minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Toss the pasta and sausage together with the cream mixture, pecorino, and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Distribute evenly in the baking dish and cover with the remaining cheese.
Bake uncovered until golden brown on the top, about 5 to 7 minutes.