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Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds and Wife Debbi Reynolds with Their Creamy Pasta and Sausage Family Recipe

Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds and wife, Debbi, serve their Creamy Pasta and Sausage family recipe at this month's October charity event competition in Valparaiso.

After my small role playing a 1930s newspaper reporter who interviewed John Dillinger, as played by Johnny Depp, in the 2009 Universal Pictures film "Public Enemies," I shared a favorite topic of conversation with Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds.

Reynolds fought hard in 2001 to make sure the legendary Thompson machine gun used by Dillinger during his escape from the Lake County Jail was returned back to the Porter County police department in Valparaiso.

The Porter County Sheriff's Department originally lent the gun to Lake County to guard Dillinger in 1934. But it was stolen by Dillinger during his jailbreak, and he reportedly used it during the five-month crime spree that ended with his death.

The machine gun was recovered and turned over to the FBI. But by the time the case was closed, the gun was forgotten about and had been collecting dust for years in the FBI firearms reference lab in Washington, D.C.

The gun is said to have an estimated worth of more than $1 million because Dillinger had it by his side during his crime spree and in the famous photo he posed for which was sent out around the world via the newswire services.

Reynolds wrote FBI Director Louis Freeh to get the gun returned.

I had the chance to catch up with Reynolds earlier this month at the Porter County Expo Center in Valparaiso, when we both participated in a charity culinary competition. The first-of-its-kind Chefs Around the Table featured business leaders, elected officials, school superintendents, fire and police officers and other community members throughout Porter County, cooking and competing to win a "Top Chef" award in a variety of categories. I served as a celebrity judge and the contestant tips and all other proceeds were donated to Empower Porter County, the wonderful program fighting to reduce substance abuse in Porter County.

Reynolds, who also served as two terms as sheriff between 1999 and 2006, was joined by his effervescent and always-smiling wife, Debbi. The duo served a delicious family recipe for a creamy pasta dish, which they are sharing with readers this week.

Sheriff Dave Reynolds' Creamy Pasta and Sausage

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage link, casing removed and crumbled

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes

1/4 cup diced onion

1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces past, corkscrew works well

1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley

Grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS: Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and crushed red pepper. Cook until sausage is no longer pink, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook until onion is tender and sausage is light brown, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, cream and salt. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. (This part of the recipe can be prepared one day ahead and chilled in the refridgerator.) Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Drain. Bring sauce to a simmer. Add past to sauce and cook until pasta is heated through and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Divide pasta between plates. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan. Makes 2 servings.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.