Sausage Ragu – apinchofthis.nyc A Pinch of This
As I said a few weeks ago, this is sausage month
I just got home to New Hampshire on Wednesday and have already seen a bag of treasures in the freezer: my mother’s sausage balls. We’ll put them on as an appetizer on Christmas Eve before soaking in a white lasagna stuffed with sausages, which we’ll eat before going to bed and waking up to eat a sausage-covered stratum. But you’ve heard this before.
Today I want to tell you about the dish that almost (very slightly) changed our Christmas Eve tradition
img src=”https://torynettleton.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/photo-dec-22-11-27-18-pm.jpg” alt=”Sausage Ragu | apinchofthis.nyc” />
In late November, a few days after Thanksgiving, I was still here in New Hampshire using some vacation days. Since it’s my weekly habit now, I feel like making fresh pasta. Coincidentally, my dad had a sausage ragout recipe he wanted to try, so a Sunday night dinner collaboration came up very easily. Dad did the ragu. I made the pasta and my dad happily contributed some of his homemade bread to the side. (My mom also asked me to make some of Julia’s vinaigrette, surprise, surprise. A very satisfying home-cooked meal, everywhere.)
New Hampshire pasta and ragu below:
<img src="https://torynettleton.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/photo-dec-23-9-59-53-am.jpg" alt="Sausage Ragu | apinchofthis.nyc" /
I expected the dinner to be very good, because how could the sausage on fresh pasta not be?
Oops. It was better than very good. It was perfect. The jagged texture of the fresh pasta, the fennel burst of the ragu, the salty blow of the grated Parmesan. Just heaven. And anything you can eat from a bowl this time of year only improves on something good.
<img src="https://torynettleton.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/photo-dec-23-10-02-41-am.jpg" alt="Sausage Ragu | apinchofthis.nyc" /
Afterward, my mother suggested that maybe,
just maybe, this year we might prefer to have this for Christmas Eve dinner since it was: 1. So wonderfully delicious, and 2. “Lighter” than lasagna (barely).
Still, the tradition has been maintained and we go with lasagna again.
<img src="https://torynettleton.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/photo-dec-22-11-39-34-pm.jpg" alt="
As a fan of tradition*, and also as someone who loves the devil of that white lasagna, I perfectly agree with that. I also agree with that as someone who served this same ragout just a few days ago for a cozy Sunday night dinner. Sausage ragout three times in a month can be excessive. Maybe.
<img src="https://torynettleton.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/photo-dec-22-11-42-15-pm.jpg" alt="Sausage Ragu | apinchofthis.nyc" /
Sunday was a perfectly dreary day to curl up and soak in bowls of pasta with friends, especially since we’d all had a pretty bustling weekend running between Christmas parties and staying up singing and dancing tapes until the wee hours of the morning. The photos are a bit moody, thanks to the weather, but dinner was quite the opposite.
<img src="https://torynettleton.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/photo-dec-22-11-44-11-pm.jpg" alt="Sausage Ragu | apinchofthis.nyc" /
A note, for those who make fresh pasta to go along with this: sprinkle the noodles with lots of grits, especially if you won’t be cooking them right away. I learned that the hard way as I tried to break up groups of panicked pappardelle noodles as my friends sat in the next room. I managed to break some lumps, but I’ve made better noodles before. (See photos from NH)
(By the way, my friends are not imaginary… I just didn’t get any photos of our dinner, so the finished bowls above are from my own private leftover party two days later.)
Hey guys! Merry Christmas! I will check in again after I get out of my sausage coma.
* I think I’ve said, “I’m a fan of tradition” maybe 6 times on this blog. So if someone could get me a thesaurus or something, that would be great.
Serves 4-6 people, with leftover ragout
1/2 fennel bulb,
discarded stems, heartless bulb and coarsely
/2 onion, coarsely chopped
tablespoon fennel seeds 1
28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
pounds sweet Italian sausage, tripe removed
extra virgin olive oil, and more to drizzle
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
tablespoons tomato paste
garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 cup red wine
1 lb pappardelle
grated Parmesan cheese
- Press the fennel, onion and fennel seeds into the food processor until finely chopped, about 15 seconds. Scrape the sides if necessary. Set aside in a small bowl.
- Press the tomatoes into the food processor until soft, about 15 seconds. Set aside in a small bowl.
- Press the sausage into the food processor for about 15 seconds (all together!) Scrape the sides if necessary. Book in a… Small bowl!
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shines. Add the sausage and cook, breaking the meat with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook for about 15 minutes when the meat is freshly or almost cooked.
- Add the fennel mixture and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, garlic and oregano and cook, stirring constantly for 30-45 seconds.
- Add the wine, scraping the brown pieces at the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine has almost evaporated, about a minute. Add 1 cup of water and mashed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently and uncovered until the ragout has thickened, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm over the lowest flame.
- Boil a large pot of water (3/4 full) and add a few generous pinches of salt. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, minus a minute or two. Add the paste, stirring often.
- Before draining, reserve a cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta, return it to the empty pot and add about 3 cups of ragout plus 1/2 cup of pasta water. Mix to combine. Adjust the consistency with the remaining cooking water or a little more ragu.
- Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan.
- Dive into that bowl of pasta and sausages and don’t go up until you’re ready for bowl #2.
- Leftover ragout can be stored in the fridge for quick leftovers or small sneaky spoonfuls for about a week. Or put it in the freezer to maintain a semblance of self-control for a month or two.