Last week on the Epicurious blog Tanya Steel wrote about serving a Proscuitto and Taleggio macaroni and cheese to a friend who it turned out, preferred the blue boxed verson. When I was little I enjoyed that mac and cheese that comes in a box too. But years later when I tried it again, I realized it wasn't very good. The sauce made from powder was artificial tasting and the macaroni was pasty. As an adult there is no question, my tastes had changed.
The other packaged food I remember liking way back when, was Stouffer's French Bread Pizza. I still remember how tasty that crunchy pizza was. Of course, if I tried it now I would probably not be as impressed, but as a 13 year old babysitter, it seemed like a very delicious treat.
I'd rather recreate what I loved about those french bread pizzas than be disappointed trying the original version. This recipe took a couple of tries to get right. It's a little messy but also savory, crisp and cheesy. In other words, delicious! Once you have the technique down, you could probably make other versions too. I developed this recipe to go with an Argentinean Malbec.
Portabello & Sausage French Bread Pizza
4 to 6 Servings
1 loaf French bread
3 Italian sausages, hot or mild
1 Tablespoon flour
1/4 cup red wine (Malbec is perfect)
2 large Portabello mushrooms
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
8 slices Provolone cheese, about 8 ounces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the bread lengthwise and in half so you have four equal portions. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about five minutes then remove while preparing the topping. Meanwhile prepare the mushrooms by wiping clean with a paper towel and removing the stem. Thinly slice the mushrooms and set aside.
Remove casing from sausages and crumble into a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add the wine and stir the mixture then add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping up the bottom of the pan. Mushrooms will release their juices and turn brown. Cook another few minutes until mushrooms are cooked through. Take skillet off the heat and mix in the Parmesan cheese.
Spread the sausage and mushroom mixture evenly on top of the bread halves. Cut each slice of cheese in half and place on top. Bake for five to ten minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut each piece in thirds to serve.