Monday, April 04, 2011

pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe

Originally here, but I made a fair number of changes. I think the key was only boiling the pasta until it was half-done, and then finishing it in the sauce (which originally looked pretty watery). Yum.

* about 3/4 lb chicken (or other) sausage, casings discarded
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
* crushed red pepper flakes to taste
* 1 can diced tomatoes & about two dozen halved grape tomatoes (or a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes)
* ¼ tsp granulated sugar
* 1 glass red wine (or more)
* freshly ground black pepper
* freshly squeezed lemon juice
* chicken stock for cooking the broccoli rabe (optional)
* 1 lb dry orecchiette
* 2 bunches broccoli rabe, bottom stalks trimmed and discarded, outer leaves removed, and remaining rabe cut into 3 inch lengths
* 2 handfuls freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese plus more for serving

Heat a large pan over high heat. Add a bit of olive oil and crumble in the sausage meat. Reduce the heat to medium and use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the meat as it browns, turning once or twice.

Add a little more olive oil and then the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook a minute or two until the garlic has softened.

Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, and wine and return to the heat. Season with a little kosher salt (bear in mind that the parmigiano reggiano cheese you’ll add at the end is very salty), and some black pepper, bring to a gentle simmer, reduce the heat to low and allow to bubble away uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce gets too dry, add more wine or a little stock or water. [I added quite a bit of chicken broth.]

After 30 minutes, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, a little more sugar if the acid is too high, or even a spritz of lemon juice if you feel the flavor needs brightening. Continue to simmer uncovered over low heat partially covered.

Meanwhile boil some well-salted water for the pasta in a large pot. Toss in the orecchiette and boil, stirring occasionally, until par-cooked (about half-done). Add the pasta to the sausage ragu and keep stirring, until pasta is al dente and has absorbed some sauce.

Refill the pot with chicken broth (or water). Toss in the broccoli rabe and boil for 8 minutes or until just tender. Drain and immediately rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve the beautiful green color. Press the cooked broccoli rabe against the side of a colander or sieve with the back of a cooking spoon to remove excess water.

Stir into the pasta. Remove from the heat and stir in a couple of handfuls of grated parmigiano reggiano.

Check the seasoning one last time with salt and pepper and maybe more lemon juice, and serve right away sprinkled with a little more cheese.

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