Braised Sausages with Macaroni, Cheese Sauce and Fennel

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 3:00 AM, January 13, 2012

Aired January 13, 2012

Serves 4
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage in casings
EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling plus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons butter
1 head fennel, trimmed and quartered, thinly sliced and a handful of fronds, chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
Salt and pepper
2 round tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some for topping
1 pound Italian macaroni or ziti

Place sausages in a skillet and add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the links. Drizzle EVOO over them and place on stove over high heat; bring to boil then reduce heat to medium. Cook to evaporate the liquid, and brown and crisp the casings.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

In a medium pot or deep skillet, heat EVOO, a turn of the pan, with butter. When butter melts into oil, add fennel, fronds, onions and garlic; season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to soften 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the fennel and stir a minute then add wine and deglaze the pan. Stir in stock and milk, and cook to thicken, 5-7 minutes.

Cook macaroni to al dente.

Stir cheese into fennel sauce, combine with pasta and serve the macaroni with sausages alongside.