Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Penne with Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce
4 italian sausages (maybe 1/2 a pound?)
1/2 cup diced onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup wine or low sodium chicken broth
10 or so fresh basil leaves
8 oz can of tomato sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
cooked penne about 1/2 a box or so
Remove sausage from the skin if needed and add it to a lightly oiled, medium hot pan. Brown it and break it up. Remove it and drain off most of the grease. Add the onions and cook them till they are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant. Deglaze with the wine or chicken broth. Add the tomatoes, stir, then cream and more stirring. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple minutes. Add the sausage and basil to the sauce, stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the pasta and let sit for a minute. Serve.
So this is how I come up with recipes, when I don't use one straight from some kind of source. First I decide what I want to make, then I scour the intertubes, cookbooks and people I know who cook and see what's what. Then I take that info, ignore most of it and just kind of throw something together. It doesn't always come out. But man oh man oh man. OH. MAN. This one did. I have been thinking about tomato/cream sauce lately, so I thought I would toss something together with one. I was originally going to do this with chicken and I still will at some point in the future. But when I offhandedly mentioned doing it with Italian sausage my girlfriend threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't do it like that. Well... not really. But she was excited about the idea. So sausage it is.
First off, take the casing off the sausages (if you aren't using the loose kind). I have found the easiest way to do it is to start with frozen ones. Run them under cold water till the casing moves around (15 seconds or so), slice the casing, it comes right off and you dont lose any meat. I don't have any pictures of the process because it takes two hands. Sorry. But here is the result. I am using these big ones, because that's what I have. Each of them is about the size of two normal ones, so if that's what you have then use four. Heat a skillet up to med-high and add a little olive oil. The oil helps the sausages not stick at the beginning. Add the sausages. I chop them into sections like this, let them brown a bit, then start to break them up more. In the end it should look like this. Nicely browned, thoroughly cooked, mixed size pieces. Now put all that aside onto a paper towel lined plate. The towel will sop up the extra grease and keep the whole dish from tasting like nothing but sausage. Mmmmm, look at that fond. And grease. We don't need the grease. Pour out almost all of it (although I like to keep it, it's good for frying burgers in). You want a little bit left, but just a enough to cook the onions in. They go in next. Brown them up just a little bit, making sure not to burn the fond. If you notice a part of the fond starting to get too dark, pile some onions on top of it. They will release some liquid and keep it from burning and getting bitter. Once the onions are just about done add the garlic and stir it around a bit. Once it's nice and fragrant pour in the wine or broth. I really prefer wine for deglazing, something about alcohol works chemically with the fond to make it break down really well. It's very complicated, it would take a scientist to explain and I'm just too mad. MuHAHaha..ha.. ahem. Excuse me. Now you want to reduce the heat and let that simmer till it doesn't smell like alcohol anymore, then add the tomatoes and stir. Then add the cream. Oh baby. Heavy cream rules. Stir that in. Now let that simmer for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. After a couple minutes add the sausage and basil and stir it all together. Add some salt and pepper to taste. If you used chicken broth make sure to taste before you add the salt so you don't add too much. Look at that. Man, I don't know if the leftovers are going to make it to lunch tomorrow. Anyway, now pour on the pasta and stir it around. One thing about the pasta, you want to stop cooking it just a tiny bit shy of how done you want it. Then let it sit in the sauce for a minute or two. It soaks it up and is just awesome. Now put it in a bowl and eat it. The consensus was that this experiment came out really well. The sausage isn't overpowering (thanks to removing most of the grease), adding the basil at the end keeps it bright and cream is just the best. But I will never try to figure out the calorie content.