-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.
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!