Saturday, October 25, 2008
Fusilli with Fennel, Sausage and Wine
Patricia Wells captures the soul of regional French cooking and transforms the ingredients of the French countryside into recipes that will work as well in your kitchen as they do in mine or hers. Here, she marries well-flavored sausage with a kiss of fennel and binds them together in a rich wine reduction that is tossed with pasta and a mixture of egg and cheese - carbonara style - just before it's served. The shimmering sauce clings to the pasta and your first bite reveals flavor that rarely comes from a sauce so spare and easy to prepare. Gather friends, uncork the wine and enjoy this simple pasta feast.Your evening will be memorable.
I've sent this recipe to Presto Pasta Nights sponsored by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. This week's guest host is Melissa at The Cooking Diva.
Fusilli with Fennel, Sausage and Chianti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, broken into small pieces
1 to 3 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste (from a tube)
2 cups Chianti or other dry red wine
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons kosher salt + salt to taste
1 pound dried fusilli or penne
About 1 cup pasta cooking water
1) Heat olive oil in a very large skillet until it shimmers. Add sausage and brown. Stir in fennel seeds and tomato paste; blend well. Bring to a simmer; cook for 2 minutes to blend flavors. Add the wine; simmer, uncovered, until most of the wine cooks off, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
2) Place the eggs in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in the cheese and a generous grinding of pepper. Set aside.
3) Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Stir in 3 tablespoons salt and the fusilli. Cook until tender but firm, about 9 to 11 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
4) Add the pasta to the skillet containing the sausage meat. Toss to coat fusilli with sauce. Remove pan from heat. Pour in egg mixture. Working quickly, toss pasta with two forks to incorporate eggs and coat each piece of fusilli with the egg mixture. If the pasta appears dry add pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, to create a smooth, clinging sauce. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.