Sunday, January 12, 2014


Have I ever told you how much I love pasta?  How whenever I want a snack, and people suggest crackers, raw veggies, granola bars, fruit, chips, pretzels and other worthless calories, I'd like to have just a few bites of pasta to tide me over until my next meal?  How my pantry has an entire shelf dedicated to various shapes?  How finding a new or rare shape gives me a euphoric high?  How I had a love affair with the (sadly) short lived mac and cheese from Wendy's?

Now that my secret is out, let's talk about this pasta I made today.  It's a spin on a top recipe from Tim's favorite website, Kevin & Amanda.  I've made it a few times and have tweaked it a bit.  Whenever I cook with cream, sauces end up too watery.  According to myself and several comments on the recipe, this may happen.  I have two strategies I use to avoid a runny pasta sauce in this particular dish.  So you can use the original recipe, or stay here and follow along.

Reasons why this recipe rules: I get to use my cast iron skillet.  It's cheesy, meaty and pasta...y.  It only dirties one pan.  It takes about half an hour to make.  It tastes fab leftover.

Once out of oven, LEAVE POTHOLDER ON HANDLE so you don't grab it barehanded!


1 lb smoked sausage
1.5 cups diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, mild
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces pasta, any medium or large short shape will work
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese

Heat oven proof skillet over medium high heat, then add sliced sausage.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes, until crispy and browned on both sides.  Add chopped onions, cook and stir for about 5 minutes until onions are tender and slightly browned.  Add garlic and stir for about a minute.  Pour in Rotel, broth, cream, pasta, salt and pepper.  Stir until mixed well.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for about 8 minutes.  Remove cover and simmer for another 8 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.  Remove from heat and stir in about 3/4 cup of cheese.  Sprinkle the remainder of cheese on top, making sure it's enough cheese to create a nice brown crust.  Turn your oven's broiler to high, then put skillet in oven.  WATCH CAREFULLY and let the cheese brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove skillet from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. 

Special notes:  Original recipe calls for 8 ounces of pasta, but that isn't enough to keep it from getting too liquidy.  You can add more pasta, like I did, or if you want to stick to 8 ounces, cut the chicken broth in half.  If you notice the sauce is a bit on the watery side, take off the lid earlier and let that liquid boil away and reduce.  I've used large shells, penne and campenelle pasta for this and they all work well.  I use Barilla pasta, which I've found takes the longest to cook.  Store brand pasta usually cooks faster, so you may want to reduce the liquid if you're using a quicker cooking pasta.

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