Friday, October 1, 2010

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells

If you've picked up an issue of BHG recently, you may have seen this recipe.  It was one of their Prize Winning Recipes.  If you follow NoblePig's blog, you've probably seen it.  With all of the hooplah, I decided I would try it. I made it yesterday, altered it, and loved the result.  Our whole family loved the result.  I'm sharing my version of the recipe and a few tips I have after my first "go at it."

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells
Adapted From Better Homes and Gardens

24 dried jumbo shell macaroni
8 oz. dried tiny shell macaroni (2 cups)
1 lb. Italian sausage (I used spicy, but it wasn't terribly hot, and the kids didn't even notice)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large shallots, minced
2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded (8 oz.)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz)
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon white pepper or pepper
1 24 oz. jar vodka sauce (Emeril is my favorite brand)
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Fresh basil leaves and crushed red pepper for garnish

Preheat oven to 350o F.  Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Meanwhile, remove casings from sausages and brown in a small skillet.  Add the shallots and garlic when the sausage is almost browned.  Allow it to cook on low until shallots have softened.

Using a large slotted spoon, transfer shells to a colander.  Rinse with cold water; drain well and set aside.  In same pan cook tiny shells according to package directions.  Drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine Gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, half-and-half and pepper.  Heat over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and smooth, stirring frequently.  Once melted, stir in sausage, garlic, and shallots. Stir in tiny shells.
Spread 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular baking dish.  Spread each (drained) large shell with your thumb and index finger and spoon cheese-shell mixture in with your opposite hand; place stuffed shells at an angle in prepared baking dish.  They fit together better without leaving gaps if you align one of the "four" sides of each shell with the side of the baking dish and repeat the same directionality with the remaining shells.  Top with remaining pasta sauce.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes more or until heated through.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Top with fresh basil and serve.  
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