Thursday, February 21, 2013
Sweet and Spicy Sausage Ragu
2 onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 c tomato paste
2 c hearty red wine (I used beef broth with a little red wine vinegar)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used turkey)
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
2 bay leaves
1 thyme bundle
1 lb spaghetti (I used shells)
1/2 c grated fresh parmesan
1. Put the onions, fennel, celery, and garlic in a food processor and puree to a coarse paste.
2. Coat a wide, deep pan with olive oil, add the pureed veggies, season with salt, and bring to a medium-high heat. Cook the vegies until all the liquid has evaporated and they begin to stick to the pan--you want to brown these. Stir occasionally to scrape up the brown bits, then let the crud form again. It takes about 30 minutes.
3. When the brown crud has formed and been scraped down a couple of times, add the tomato paste, stirring to combine. Let it start to brown a little and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes. There's not much liquid at this point to keep things from burning, so be careful and move fast. Add the wine, stir to combine, and scrape up any remaining brown bits; cook until about half the wine has evaporated, 4-5 minutes.
4. Add both the sweet and the spicy sausage and using a spoon to break it up, cook until the meat is brown, 10-15 minutes.
5. Add enough water to the pan to cover the meat by about 1/2 inch. Stir to combine well and add the bay leaves and the thyme bundle. Taste, season with salt, and taste again. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking, checking occasionally, for 3 hours, tasting, seasoning, and adding more water as needed.
6. During the last half hour of the cooking process, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook. Drain, reserving 1/2 c of the pasta cooking water. Remove the thyme bundle and bay leaves from the sauce. Then remove half of the sauce from the pan and reserve. Immediately add the cooked pasta to the pan with the ragu and toss to combine, adding more of the reserved ragu or pasta water if needed; continue cooking for another couple of minutes, until the past and sauce cling together and the liquid has reduced.
7. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese. Toss the pasta and sauce together and serve.