Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dairy Deliciousness

Things are getting so CRAY-CRAY at this point in the semester, that lots of lower-priority tasks have fallen by the wayside. One of those things is dealing with my milk share. I only get a gallon every two weeks, but my whole back fridge is FULL of milk right now!

So I am constantly searching for new ways to use A LOT of milk in recipes. For tonight's pasta dish, I started by making a batch of fresh ricotta, then I fashioned a hearty casserole that was chock full of dairy goodness--more than is even legal in most states (excluding Wisconsin, of course)!

Dairyful Pasta Bake

2 tablespoons bacon fat
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Italian herb blend
pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
2 cups Lacinato kale, stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup flour
up to 6 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon chicken soup base
grating of fresh nutmeg
1 cup Parmesan, freshly shredded, divided

1 lb. penne rigate, cooked to al dente and drained

2 cups fresh ricotta

Heat the bacon fat in a large Dutch oven and saute the sausage and onion together until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the black pepper, Italian herbs, and red pepper flakes. Add the kale and white wine, and cook for a few minutes until kale is wilted and wine is reduced. Sprinkle the flour over everything and stream in a quart of the milk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. (Add another cup or two of milk if necessary.) Stir in the soup base and nutmeg. Remove from heat and add about half of the Parmesan cheese.

Gently combine the sauce and the pasta along with the ricotta. Pour into a sprayed 9x13 dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until bubbly and starting to turn golden on top. Garnish with extra Parmesan when serving.

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