Among all these cookings, there are some that sizzle excitement before they even reach the plate. It happened out of the blue and it was like along with the idea came the good luck too. We are talking about a food that reaped the laurels, earning everyone’s acceptance and interest. It is the story of a culinary adaptation, becoming a huge success without any unnecessary effort, an adaption that even the experimentation for the new would very much envy.
Sausage ragout is based on the pasta with mincemeat recipe or Bolognese as they’re commonly known, also one of the most successful recipes of pandespani, that pays tribute to its raw material that is no other than… sausage. It’s pork content transforms during the cooking process creating an incredible result which translates into an authentic full flavoured sauce, with a warm red colour, and distinct texture. By the time you try it, the only common element you will find with the Bolognese is the desire to have some more.
Ragout or meat sauce gives out its depth and fullness of flavour while, half-drunk, is slow-cooked with the tomato and the rest of the vegetables (onion- carrot-celery) – wine has preceded. The spices used, only add an extra value to this range of flavours, since its brilliant personality is mainly formed by the gentle interaction between cooking time and the ingredients, which (almost without even boiling) create the base and define what a sauce needs to stand out at all times, in every occasion. Basically, this happens because the sauce doesn’t need the neutrality of pasta, rice or polenta to highlight itself because it has the ability to maintain its prominence even when combined with a vegetable composition and/ or blended in béchamel (as it happens in Lasagna or moussaka for example). Sausage ragout includes all the above elements, enriched with the additional details of the sausage, providing this way, a texture in which the meaty pieces draw the attention creating a pleasant contrast with the thick sauce.
When the sausage ragout joins forces with all sorts of pasta, it steals the crown from any other pasta dish and places itself on top of the list for the proposed Sunday meal menu.
Non creamy sauces, the ones with a distinct texture prefer to be accompanied by pasta that have the ability – due to their shape and size- to maintain a part of them inside them. Penne, fusilli, shells or the wider pappardelle would be the ideal choice. Their vigorous, rustic character longs for the intensity that will blow the taste off to higher levels. This intensity comes from the accompanying cheese, with pecorino to be winning over parmigiano as it is more spicy and, why not, aggressive in terms of flavour.
We tried this recipe recently, one day that due to the lack of food supplies we had to improvise and exercise our mix n match skills (it’s true what they say – two halves, indeed, make a whole). My friend Catherine, a dedicated world traveler and gourmet lover, enthusiastically declared that it was `’the best ragout i have ever tried`’ (of course she has not tried our homemade Bolognese yet). There were three of us and the ragout was barely enough for everyone, needless to say there was any left to keep for the day after. So in case you try it, calculate the amount including the `’collateral damage`’ from the endless picking. We used low fat sausages, chosen to have only the necessary fat to be juicy but not heavy. Nobody appreciates a sauce that makes digestion a torture, even if the sauce is delicious. Choose wisely!
You can also try them with fresh pasta, being extra careful with the boiling time (2-3 minutes) and quickly serving them (about pasta boiling check the link). The difference in taste is notable and the overall outcome a small miracle. Long story short, sausage ragout is a highly recommended kind of sauce.
sausage ragout for pasta
Preparation: 15 minutes and 2-2.15 hours for the cooking. You can prepare the sauce from the previous day and heat it well in low temperature before serving. It will be tastier, provided there is some left (so hide it somewhere safe and keep away from trying.) If you have used fresh tomatoes, add 1 tbsp of tomato paste to enrich the colour. A recipe of medium difficulty and not very quick.
Ingredients (serves 4)
400-500 g pasta (short or wide preferably)
1 tbsp butter
500 g sausage with leek
500 g tomato (1 passata +1 big freshly chopped)
100 ml red wine
2 medium carrots cut in cubes
1 small onion chopped
1 leek, white part only, cut
1 celery stick in cubes
2 tbsps olive oil
1 bay leaf
3 tbsps pine nuts
chopped parsley and freshly grated pecorino for the serving
To prepare the sausages: Remove the film from the sausages, cut in four (first at two, then again at two) and finally at small pieces of 6-7 mm.
To prepare the sauce: In a large, deep pan or a saucepan and medium fire, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion with the carrot, the leek and the celery for 5 minutes. Add the sausage pieces and continue sautéing for 3 more minutes while stirring. Pour the wine and leave it to evaporate (3-5 minutes). Then, add the passata and the fresh, chopped tomato, the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Once it has started to boil, lower the fire to minimum, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Try and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Note: It is important that the sausage is not extremely greasy, as the extra fat will remain in the sauce.
To prepare the pasta: Boil al dente according to the instructions on the packet, having in mind that the boiling time, rarely exceeds the 8 minutes. If they are fresh, maximum time is approximately 3 minutes. Drain them and keep a cup of the water in which they have boiled. Add butter and stir.
To toast the pine nuts: Put them in a pan and medium (to low) fire and stir for a while, to become gold and reveal their smoked taste (1.5-2 minutes).
To serve: Put the pasta in deep dishes/bowls (warm, depending on the season) adding the sauce, the extra chopped parsley and the toasted pine nuts. The grated pecorino is served on the side and optionally added.