I wish that I could claim this as my own because it is absolutely amazing!!! BUT I have to give credit where credit is due and the credit here goes to Giada de Laurentiis on the Food Network. The only thing that she does differently is she adds peas to hers. My husband is a chef and his manicotti around here was king.... BUT then I started making this and even he agrees that this is better than his...grudgingly of course, lol!
1Preheat oven to 350*
Put water on to boil for Manicotti shells and prepare an "ice bath" (for when manicotti is done boiling, this stops the cooking process)
Prepare a 9x13in. baking pan by spraying with cooking spray and spreading a thin layer of marinara sauce over the entire bottom of pan.
2To make Fonduta sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and cream and bring to a SIMMER over med. heat (Be careful not to heat too quickly or get it too hot!!!)
Reduce heat to low, and add the Pecorino Ramano cheese. Remove from heat and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped basil.
3In a large skillet, brown sausage breaking into small pieces. Add the shallots and garlic (be careful not to cook on too high of a heat, you will scorch the garlic and it will be bitter).
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook til sausage is browned through and the shallots are soft.
Bring the heat to high and add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up all of the browned bits.
Cook until the wine has evaporated ( about 2 minutes )
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
4When water comes to a boil, add salt and oil to water, then add manicotti shells. Only cook 5-6 minutes until just barely tender. They will finish cooking in the oven and this will make them easier to fill and less likely to break on you. Drain boiling water and dump the manicotti in the "ice bath" . Again this stops the cooking process and allows them to be cool enough to handle.
5In a mixing bowl, combine sausage, ricotta and 1 cup of fonduta sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well
6Using a small spoon, start filling manicotti shells and arrange in prepared pan in a single layer. Top with marinara sauce and then with remaining fonduta sauce. Top that with mozzarella cheese, the rest of the chopped basil and drizzle with olive oil.
7Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let this sit for about 10 minutes so that it is easier to get out of the pan all in one piece.... I know this will take remarkable restraint.... but it is well worth the wait, lol