Italian sausages, colourful bell peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes with a touch of red wine combine to make this flavourful sauce, my version of bolognese – without all the work!
It can be made spicy or not and can easily be adapted to use the sausages whole, to mix sausages with ground beef or to substitute ground beef completely if you prefer making it one of the most versatile recipes in my collection. Just be sure if you’re using them to buy the best tasting Italian sausages you can find. You will need:
• Vidalia sweet onion, 1 large
• Olive oil
• Red bell peppers, 2
• Orange bell peppers, 2
• Garlic, 3 cloves or more
• Hot Italian sausages, 4
• Sweet Italian sausages, 4
• Dry red wine, ½ cup
• Marinara sauce, 1 jar (I use Rao’s) *
• Wide noodles, e.g. Pappardelle, 12oz
• Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• Flat-leaf Italian parsley (optional)
Firstly, peel and chop the onion, core, de-seed and chop the peppers, peel and finely chop the garlic, remove the casings from the sausages and set aside.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion; cook for about 5 minutes until just beginning to soften. Add the chopped peppers, stir to combine, add salt and freshly ground black pepper and continue to cook for about another 5 minutes or so or until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add in the sausage meat, stir to combine and cook for a further 10 minutes or so or until the meat is cooked through and all traces of pink have disappeared. (If using whole sausages, brown them separately in a skillet then slice them thickly on the diagonal before returning them to the pot – they may still be a little pink inside but don’t worry as they will cook through as the sauce cooks.)
Turn up the heat to high, add in the wine and sauce and stir through. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and let simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes; the sauce will have thickened slightly. Turn off the heat.
Meantime, cook the pappardelle noodles in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the package; drain then return to the pan.
Grate about half a cup of Parmigiana Reggiano directly into the sauce and stir to combine; add the noodles and stir again. Cover and let sit for about five minutes to allow the flavours to meld.
Ladle into bowls, grate over a little extra cheese and garnish with fresh Italian parsley (optional). Mangiare!
Set aside the leftover sauce, allow to cool then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Braised Pork with Cabbage & Onions
The tomato and pepper-rich sauce with Italian sausage infuses the pork with flavour while keeping it tender while it cooks. You will need:
• Pork rib roast, 3-4 ribs (or use chops)
• Olive oil
• Leftover spicy sausage sauce, 2 cups
• White cabbage
• Vidalia sweet onion
• Salted butter
• Fennel seeds
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Season the pork roast with salt and pepper then heat about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and brown the pork well on all sides. Place into an ovenproof dish (not too large or the meat will dry out); pour over the leftover sauce, cover and put into the oven. Bake for about 90 minutes or until the meat is just starting to fall off the bones.
About half an hour before the meat is cooked, make Braised Cabbage: Peel off the outer layers of the cabbage and discard, slice the cabbage into inch-thick wedges; remove the skin from the onion and cut into eighths. In a saucepan just large enough to hold both vegetables, add about an inch of cold water then the cabbage and onion. Sprinkle with a teaspoon each of fennel seeds and salt and a half teaspoon of freshly-ground black pepper, dot generously with butter and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes; almost all of the water will be absorbed and the cabbage and onions will be tender not limp.
Carefully cut the cooked pork roast into individual chops, spoon over the sausage sauce and serve alongside the braised cabbage and onions.
* A word about Rao’s. It is a famous Italian restaurant in New York that only a few people can ever get into to eat; the rest of us have to make do with their line of sauces. They are premium quality and yes, premium priced, but well worth it in my opinion. I would even go so far as to say that if you’re Italian and your Nonni makes sauce from scratch that it won’t be better. Long way of saying, try it!