May 6, 2009
This is a simplified version of a much richer sauce from one of the River Cafe cookbooks. That one - which is so delicious that I make it much more often than I should - uses more cream, more tomato, red wine and rosemary. It's a wintery dish, and it takes a long time to make right. This is my faster, warmer-weather version of the sauce: thyme instead of rosemary, no wine, garlic, and a bit less of everything.
It's important to use sausages you really enjoy the taste of - anything porky and herby and good will do. Other kinds of pasta will work too, but this is one of those sauces that really benefits from everything being roughly the same size, which is why it's so good with small shells, and even better with orecchiette.
Spicy Sausage Pasta
1 red onion, diced
a handful of thyme leaves
red pepper flakes (dried chilli flakes) - as many as you like - 1/2 tbsp for a decent kick
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 good pork sausages, meat removed from their skins and separated into small pieces
1 approx. 400g tin of peeled tomatoes
1/2 pint cream
salt and pepper
shell pasta or orecchiette
parmesan to serve
Heat a glug of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Brown the pieces of sausage in the oil, breaking up larger chunks until they're the size you'd like to eat. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel.
Add the thyme leaves to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute, and then return the sausage to the pan.
Drain the peeled tomatoes*. I like them with fewer seeds in this dish, but don't fuss about it; cut the core out and give them a squeeze so most of the seeds will come out. Dice the tomatoes and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, rapidly boiling water.
A few minutes before the pasta is ready, add the cream to the sausage mixture and stir well. When the pasta is almost al dente, drain thoroughly (especially important will shell pasta), then add to the sauce. Mix well. Cook for a minute or two more before serving with lots of parmesan and black pepper.
* Keep the liquid - it's good in stock, or use it to extend the sauce.