I’m a little obsessed with this dinner — even though I haven’t really eaten a legitimate bowl of it yet.
It started at the farmer’s market on Saturday — right now is slim pickins there in terms of greens and produce (see: Winter, Brutal) but I was still able to pick up a few old friends that I had been missing these past few months: Some good eggs (as you know) a mini blueberry and a mini lemon pie for Andy’s birthday (as of this tenth day of April, breakfast pie has officially eclipsed the birthday biscuit), and some sweet Italian pork sausages from Kings Roaming Angus Farm. Having a coil of these sausages in the freezer is Money in the Bank, as far as dinner is concerned. I usually don’t do anything with them except broil or grill as is, then serve with a shredded kale salad and a can of baked beans — a rich man’s franks and beans. But when I got home, I happened to place the shrink-wrapped pork next to a can of tomatoes, and just like that they spoke to me. “Sausage bolognese,” they said. “We dare you not to make it.”
The thing about sausage is that it’s not a whole ingredient, per se, but if you buy good quality ones, you know what’s in them (well, within reason; it is a sausage after all) and what’s in them is usually spices. Then when you add the whole pork-fat thing to the equation, you gotta figure that half the battle of getting something tasty on the table has already been done for you, before you even fire up a burner. You guys know me now and you know that is my kind of dinner.
So I fired up a burner. We weren’t going to eat home that night — or the next or the next — but it was bolognese, so I knew it would freeze well, and plus I had a nice chunk of time with no soccer game to rush off to — a spring miracle if there ever was one. I ate half the batch as I stood there and cooked (I was testing!) but there was just enough left for two tweens* to eat on Monday night when their parents were out. Next time, I’m tripling the batch.
Orecchiette with Sweet Sausage Bolognese
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 – 1 pound good sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed (I do this by gently grazing the casing with a serrated edge knife, then sort of turn it inside out so the meat falls out)
1/3 cup red wine
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes with their juices
1 pound orecchiette
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
In a large saucepan set over medium-low heat, add onions to olive oil and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add sausage to the pot, and turn the heat to medium-high, breaking up meat with a fork or wooden spoon. When the pink of the meat is almost gone, add wine and raise heat, cooking until the meat has absorbed most of the wine.
Add tomatoes and using scissors, snip as you see above. (You could also just hand-smush the tomatoes before they go in the pot. But then you get your hands all messy.) Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour.
(If not serving right away, allow to cool, and place in a BPA-free zip top plastic bag. Freeze flat. Thaw under running water when ready to use again.)
While the sauce is simmering down, prepare orecchiette according to package directions. Place orecchiette back in the pot with butter and toss. Add sauce and cheese and toss until sauce is clinging to every piece of pasta. Serve in bowls topped with more cheese.
*yes, my pasta-hating 12-year-old turned this into a sloppy joe, piling it onto a soft potato roll. Not gonna lie: it sounds tasty.