Tired of the nondescript? The Italian sausage and pepper jack cheese wake up the classic Johnny Marzetti casserole. This has zing, but it is not super spicy. Use your ground venison, no one will ever know it's not regular ground beef. Just what the Hunter ordered: a manly casserole.
- 1⁄2 lb bow tie pasta or 1⁄2 lb elbow macaroni
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 24 ounces beer
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion (peeled and chopped)
- 3 large garlic cloves (minced)
- 1⁄2 lb baby portabella mushrooms (wiped clean and thinly sliced)
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef (or ground venison)
- 1 3⁄4 cups low-sodium tomato sauce
- 3⁄4 lb monterey jack pepper cheese (coarsely shredded)
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place the farfalle (aka bow ties) into the pot, cook 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
- Peel Italian sausage and simmer in 24 ounces of beer for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain. Slice into 1/8" slices.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightly grease 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking dish (or 8x8-inch pan) and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a very large heavy skillet over moderate heat 1 minute.
- Add onion and garlic. Stir-fry until limp, about 3 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and stir-fry until juices are released and evaporate, about 5 minutes.
- Add beef and cook and stir, breaking up clumps, until no longer red, about 5 minutes.
- I usually drain the beef mixture in a fine mesh colander due to the volume of high water content onions and mushrooms.
- Off heat, mix in tomato sauce, Italian sausage slices and all but 1 cup cheese.
- Transfer to baking dish, add bow ties, and toss gently but thoroughly to mix.
- Scatter remaining 1 cup cheese on top. (Add grated parmesan cheese if more is needed.).
- Bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbling, 35-40 minutes, and serve.