Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Pasta Shells with Spicy Sausage Red Sauce

Pasta is certainly one of the most versatile dishes around, and I'm always happy to add new recipes to my repertoire. One of the true delights of making pasta is its ease to prepare. This particular recipe for shells with spicy sausage sauce is no exception.

It may sound a little odd at first to mix your sausage meat with cold water, but it really yields a smooth meat sauce rather than having large chunks of sausage throughout the sauce. The tomato juice melds with the sausage, and reduces beautifully to nicely cloak the pasta shells in a vibrant red-orange sauce.

I halved the recipe when I made it, and would happily make it again in the future. It was spicy, but not too spicy, cheesy, but not too cheesy, and satisfied my pasta craving completely.

Pasta Shells with Spicy Sausage Red Sauce
Serves 6 to 8 as a first course or 4 to 6 as a main course
(From On Top of Spaghetti)

8 ounces sausage meat or 2 hot Italian sausages (8 ounces), casings removed
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 plump garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (I omitted this)
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups tomato juice, preferably organic
1 pound dried pasta shells, rigatoni, or spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more to pass at the table

Combine the sausage meat, onions, garlic, and fennel seeds in a bowl with the cold water. Break up the meat with your fingers or two forks, combining it with the other ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.

Transfer the sausage mixture to a large, heavy saucepan with a lid--an enamel-coated cast-iron pot is ideal. Stir in the cayenne (if you would like it more spicy) and salt, and pour over the oil oil. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, over moderate heat until all the water has cooked away and only the oil remains to moisten the ingredients.

Add the tomato juice, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes with the lid slightly ajar. Adjust seasoning as necessary, but be careful not to over-salt, as you will be adding cheese later.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt and drop in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot, off the heat. Ladle on enough sauce to generously coat the pasta with a little puddle on the bottom. Sprinkle over the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss. The cheese will thicken the sauce. If it seems dry, add more sauce (I like mine extra saucy so I used all the sauce). Serve right away with extra sauce and cheese passed at the table.


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