Monday, March 22, 2010

Simple and Easy: Sausage Cart Spaghetti

-1 lb Italian sausage
-1 lb spaghetti, mostly cooked
-1 bell pepper, sliced
-1 onion, sliced
-2 cups chicken stock
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 1/2 tbls good mustard
-pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
-salt and pepper

You can either slice the sausage or crumble it. Either way, brown it in a skillet over medium-high heat, then remove it and set it aside. If you want you can put it on a paper towel lined plate to absorb some of the fat. Saute the garlic, onions and peppers in some of the fat remaining in the pan and set them aside. Deglaze with the chicken stock, add the mustard and red pepper flakes and let it reduce to 1 cup. Taste for seasoning and add more mustard, salt and pepper, if needed. Add everything back in to the sauce and stir gently until all the liquid is absorbed by the pasta, about 1-2 minutes. Serve.

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It's sad to admit, but I'm not a very well traveled guy. I've only lived in Boston and Providence, RI (which is an awful lot like Boston, only smaller) and despite the fact that I've been all across the country on road trips, I was always young and never really payed much attention to what was going on. So I don't know if Italian sausage carts are as ubiquitous in the rest of the country as they are in the cities of New England, but here you can't go to any kind of event or even just outside when it gets above 40 degrees without smelling onions and peppers sauteing in sausage fat.I remember when I was living in Providence there was a guy who was a die hard cart vendor. He would be out there year round in the center of the city, morning, noon and night. I would walk past him on my way to and from work, wending through groups of people waiting for the bus, smoking cigarettes and carrying on loud conversations. The smells of tobacco, city and frying sausage mixed together to form a heady perfume that I swear you could get high off of. And every time I saw that cart I thought "damn, those smell wicked good. I should buy one". But I never did. I'm not sure why, since I love Italian sausage, but I just didn't. It's on my short list of regrets, although getting one probably would have wound up on it too. Heh.

Fast forward ten years (and half a page of semi pointless setup) and I have a craving for sausage, peppers and onions wicked bad. Now, I could just brown everything in my skillet and stuff it in a roll. I could even ask one of my neighbors to stand near me smoking cigarettes while I eat it on the sidewalk, watching traffic and occasionally yelling at people so I could get the whole sausage-cart-in-the-city experience. But I wanted to do something different. I decided to try to make pasta that tasted like one of those cart sausages. So I did. And it worked. I love it when that happens.

This is one of those simple dishes with a short list of ingredients that turns out just awesome. The sauce gets pretty much completely absorbed into the pasta, giving it lots of flavor and just a slight coating of smooth, rich liquid. And let's face it, that liquid is fat. I mean, we're eating sausage here, that's why it's so good. You can cut down on the fat by draining the cooked sausage on a paper towel lined plate and pouring off the fat from the pan (although you would have to replace it with some olive oil to properly saute the veggies). But you only live once and just so long as you don't eat like this every day then you're fine.

I didn't specify what kind of mustard you should use, other than good, since that's really a personal choice. And I suppose you could use crappy mustard if you want, each to their own, you know? I happen to like Dijon. But whichever one you would put on an Italian sausage, that's the right kind to use. Next time I make this, and there will be a next time, I'm going to toss some toasted bread crumbs in at the end, I think that would add some nice texture and flavor.

So tell me, where are you and do you have Italian sausage carts? If you don't have them (or even if you do), you should make this pasta, it's pretty close to the flavor but different enough to be, well, different. And if you want the whole experience, let me know. I'll come stand next to you with a smoldering cigarette and yell things at passersby.

And I'm going to send this in to Presto Pasta Nights. Excitement!

44 comments:

Karen said...

I grew up near New Bedford and I've never seen an Italian sausage cart. This pasta looks good - nice flavors with the mustard!

Cristine said...

Looks delicious! I posted a sausage and peppers recipe today, too!

dawn said...

sausage bowl!
i'm a die hard italian sausage cart vendor girl. love them. always get them when we go to quincy market and/or a game.

Angie's Recipes said...

While many others are sushi fans, I am a big fan for the pasta dishes! This looks so comforting!

kaje said...

Ahh, memories. There was always a sausage cart guy outside the Lansdowne St. Boston nightclubs back in the late 80s-early 90s. We'd all stumble out at 2am to that amazing smell, and I'd always get just a roll with onions and peppers on it to soak up all the booze in my system (the sausages were a little much at 2am, even in my teens). MMMMMMM.

Joanne said...

First. I love crumbled sausage in pasta. total comfort food. And so so tasty. What a great dish!

Second. Sausage carts are all over in NYC! Especially at celebrations, street, fairs, things like that. So good.

Goldie said...

I recently saw a movie by that title... (kidding)

I'm allergic to peppers, but otherwise, I like the concept. Sounds yummy.

HoneyB said...

Oh yes, this is a defininte make...looks and sounds so delicious!!! Since I am no where near a city we don't have these, but they are all over the place at the fairgrounds! (Sausage vendors!)

Kris said...

This looks fantastic!

A Year on the Grill said...

well, right now, in St Thomas, no sausage carts... In Kansas, there are a couple of butcher shops that cook on Saturdays and you can get the feel. But it is more of a Boston/New York/Chicago... big city kind of thing I believe... Only seen them in those cities

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

The hot dog and sausage carts are the only ones legal in Toronto. We have no other kinds, if you can believe it. We do indulge about once a year, when we are downtown. Great idea to make a pasta out of your memories!

doggybloggy said...

I like the name of this dish and since I am from the southwest and I live in the northeast now I have to tell you that sausage carts are pretty much an eastern thing unless its a state fair or something...

Patty said...

Wow this looks great thanks for the recipe! I still have yet to see a sausage cart here in So Cal, I wonder if they even have them?

Jenn said...

Is it dinner time yet? I don't think I''ve seen a sausage cart before. Though, living in LA there's an quite a few Italian eateries and specialty store that may have it. I think it's time for a food hunt. :)

Hungry Dog said...

I love this post, one of your best, Bob. I lived in Boston and Providence in 1995 and can't recall ever seeing these carts but hey that was a long time ago. Now I'm in San Francisco and I've never seen vendors like this exactly--although you can get good sausages at the farmer's market. Anyhow, the pasta looks awesome, the mustard is brilliant!

Bridgett said...

My hubby would be all over this. Who can resist loads of sausage in the pasta? Yummy.

Anncoo said...

I love this...quick and simple.. of course delicious.

Cinnamon-Girl said...

This is just the type of pasta that I love. Absolutely delicious! No sausage carts where I live in upstate NY.

steph said...

MMM pork fat.... Looks good! I love Italian sausage

Sage Trifle said...

I know that aroma you describe. As I looked at your photos and read your words, I could remember those smells like they were present, even the cigarette smoke!

noobcook said...

I love your bowl ... so much good stuff in it!

3 hungry tummies said...

We make a version of this too, simple and comforting!

The Duo Dishes said...

We don't have sausage carts here, but we have soooo many food trucks. No doubt, someone will come up with a way to sell sausage to the masses. Good pasta.

Pam said...

What a hearty and delicious bowl of pasta - it looks great!

Bob said...

Thanks kids!

Karen: Really? That's so weird. Heh, maybe I have some kind of gift for finding them. :D

Sage Trifle: Wow, thanks!

Jenn: Around here you can also get them in pizza shops, so if you have a NY style one or something like that you might find them there. Good luck!

Duo: You guys get way more variety of mobile foods there in So Cal, I'm jealous whenever I hear people talk about them.

5 Star Foodie said...

I haven't seen an Italian sausage cart yet. Love your spaghetti dish, simple and delicious!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Sausage and pasta is a classic combo! Looks delicious!

Ruth Daniels said...

Great dish - one of my favorite pasta combinations. Thanks for sharing your version with Presto Pasta Nights.

As for Italian Sausage carts...in Toronto Ontario they are everywhere
with not only Italian but Polish, Hungarian and even the lowly hot dog. Cigarette smokers seem to keep their distance.

In Halifax Nova Scotia, you do see hot dog & Italian sausage vendors at the harbourfront (tourist land) and one or two along one busy street. Otherwise...not so much.

Kathleen said...

Oh yum! This looks like a wonderful pasta.

Catherine said...

Looks delicious Bob! This pasta dish is a definate keeper!

Culinary Alchemist said...

I have lived in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, San Diego, CA and spent 3 weeks bummin around San Francisco bay area and 2 weeks in Vancouver, BC ---- Never heard of an Sausage Cart on the west coast... But lemme tell ya, after seein this, I wish I HAD seen one, cause I would totally bury my face in a bowl of this!

Fresh Local and Best said...

This pasta looks delicious! I love the fresh flavors of sweet red bell peppers and onions.

Pierce said...

Lookin' good! I remember the cart guys from my growing up around Philly...that was a dream food for a kid and I always begged for something from the cart.

Krissy @ The Food Addicts said...

lovely comfort food! can't go wrong with pasta and sausage. and yes, who wouldn't like simple and easy?!

sweetlife said...

great dish..I love the flavors and with mustard--yum!!

sweetlife

grace said...

i've never come across a sausage cart, but i suspect that if there was one within 50 miles of me, i'd sniff it out--i love the aroma of sizzling pig. in fact, if there was a cart near me, i'd be that creepy person who walks back and forth past the cart just to take in the smell. yeah, it's a lot less conspicuous and weird if i make my own dish and just pace my kitchen instead. :)

Pam said...

It looks and sounds very tasty! I've not seen a sausage cart around Chicago or in Louisville when I was growing up but, it sounds like a fine idea to me!

noble pig said...

I have never heard of a sausage cart but I am so in for one. How cool is that? This looks like a lovely rendition of the cart experience.

Mary said...

This looks heavenly to me. We love pasta in all its guises and look forward to giving this a try.

Lea Ann said...

This loooks really really good. I'm in Denver, no sausage carts here and have never seen one in my travels. I'm thinking I'm really missing out.

The Brutal Gourmet said...

For those of you who have never seen these guys, here are a couple of pictures. Here are a couple of vendors from the same company, set up side by side.

Chris said...

This sounds awesome, Bob. Easy too, I love it! Italian sausage and peppers are always a good combination.

Danielle said...

I've seen a "hot dog" cart in front of Lowes. Guess So Cal isn't real big on sausage. the little carts we have around here are for ice cream. Oh and we have to food trucks that we lovingly refer to as "roach coaches".
Yummy recipe!

James said...

Amazing stuff, so tell me, where are you and do you have Italian sausage carts? If you don't have them, you should make this pasta, it's pretty close to the flavor but different enough to be?

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