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Italian Sausage Ragu


 

 I can't help myself.  Every now and again I have to treat myself to some pasta.  Todd doesn't like it at all, and so I try very hard not to cook it, or at least not to cook it very often, but every now and again . . .  a gal has to do what a gal has to do.  I crave pasta and it needs to be cooked. There is no getting around it.



I figure that at least if I cook a magnificent sauce for it, then I can cook him some rice or potatoes to go with it instead of pasta.  He is usually happy with that.  I came across a delicious sounding pasta sauce recipe the other day on a blog,  Inside the Rustic Kitchen.  It was called a Pici with Tuscan Sausage Pasta. 
 


I have never seen Pici pasta here but from her photos it looked like thick spaghetti.  I also didn't have any Tuscan sausages but I did have some lovely Italian Hot Sausage that I picked up at Costco last time I was there, so I decided to go with that.


I also wanted to be able to send a meal over to Ariana and Jose as I know their days are busy at the moment getting used to a new baby in the house. I remember when I had my own children, and new babies in the house. I was always exhausted and I would have loved to have someone send us a meal over.


So I decided to adapt the recipe and make big pot of the sauce, some for Todd and myself and some to send over with some cooked pasta for Ariana and Jose to enjoy. I did make a few changes to the recipe which you will note below.


What I really liked about the recipe is that it is very straight forward and didn't ask for crazy ingredients you might not have at home. Well, maybe the red wine is a bit out of the ordinary, especially for Mormons, but I always have a small bottle each of good red and white wines in my larder just for cooking purposes.  I always have carrots, celery, onions and garlic, and I grow rosemary in the garden.


I liked that it used fennel seeds.  I love the taste of fennel . . .  almost like the flavour of licorice, but milder.  I was a tiny bit concerned at the amount.  1 TBS sounded like a quite a  bit, but I gritted my teeth and threw it in, and was pleasantly surprised.  It totally works, and it is not over-powering in any way.


Another thing I always have in my larder are good quality tinned tomatoes.  I think anything you are going to eat deserves the best and so I always keep Cirio tomatoes in my cupboard.  The whole, the chopped, the passatta, the paste, etc.  Cirio is the best in my opinion, and no I am not being paid to say so.  Nor did they sent me free product to say so.  I quite simply like them and I think you would too.  This recipe uses two tins of the plum tomatoes.  So rich and tasty.


Other than that there is the sausage (of course) just crumble it in and brown it before adding in everything else.  I like to mash it with a wire potato masher as it browns.  This breaks it up really nicely as you can see, so you get a few larger bits, and a lot of smaller bits . . .  the perfect consistency with pasta . . .


And of course there is garlic, which I love.  Altogether this sauce was quite, quite delicious.  I enjoyed mine on a bowl of whole wheat spaghetti with some freshly grated Parmesan on top and Todd enjoyed his on a baked potato with some grated cheese  on top.  I sent Ari & Jose's over with some cooked radiatorre and cheese.  I thought she could just dump it into a casserole dish and reheat in the oven or microwave. 


*Italian Sausage Ragu*
Serves 4

Rich and packed with flavour. Serve with your favourite pasta for a real treat.

1 pound Italian sausage, skinned and crumbled
1 medium carrot peeled
1 stalk celery
1 small white onion, peeled
2 fat cloves garlic, peeled
1 TBS fennel seed
1 large sprig rosemary
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dark soft brown sugar
100ml red wine (3 1/2 fluid ounces)
2 (400g) tins plum tomatoes, undrained (2-14.5 oz tins)
200ml water (7 fluid ounces)
salt and pepper to taste
Your favourite cooked pasta


Finely chop the carrot, celery, onion and garlic.  Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with a heavy bottom.  Crumble in the sausage and cook, stirring to break it up even more with a wooden spoon as it browns.  Stir in the vegetables.  Cook, stirring for a further 8 to 10 minutes at which time they should be softened and the pan a bit deglazed. Add the red wine and let it bubble up and reduce.  Stir in the fennel seed, rosemary sprig, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, plum tomatoes and water.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 45 to 50 minutes until the sauce thickens and reduces, stirring occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasong as required.

Cook your favourite pasta according to package directions and serve hot with the sauce ladled over top and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.




This sauce is really delicious. I did take the liberty of adding some good balsamic vinegar and a touch of soft light brown sugar.  I happen to think those things add a lovely flavour to sauces like this.  Try it and I am sure you will agree, conventional or not!  Buon Appetito!  Mangiara!!!


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Marie Rayner
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2 comments:

  1. I could eat this a lot..often..and with not even tiring of it!

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    1. It is so good Monique. I could eat it every day like you say and never tire of it! xo

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