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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Penne with Sausage Ragu and Sicilian Meatballs



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that our on-going lemon extravaganza has been postponed for a day. That little thing called life has gotten in the way and my time was needed elsewhere today. I lost the light before I could photograph the last of my lemon treats, so I still have two outstanding recipes to share with you. On Sunday, I'll feature a wonderful tea cookie, called a Lemon Thin, and on Monday, the jewel in my crown, a Lemon Mousse Cake will take center stage. As for today, a friend needed help with a commitment she had made and asked for my assistance. So, on a very meatless Friday, I found myself knee deep in sweet sausage, Sicilian meatballs and a truly stellar ragu. This recipe was clipped from on old issue of Gourmet magazine and those of you who try it will not be disappointed. The sauce is thick and rich and is infused with the flavors of pork and beef and the barest hint of cinnamon and fennel (from the sausage). The meatballs are extraordinary and herein lies the problem. While adults will love their fine texture, children will spend the entire meal picking out the currents and pine nuts that contribute to their wonderful flavor. My job is merely to warn of such hazzards. Unfortunately, yours is to deal with them. In Sicily, this dish is served on Shrove Tuesday and it's an integral part of their Carnival celebration. Traditionally, this dish would be served in two parts. The pasta would be served as a first course and the meats would be piled on a platter and served as the second. Gourmet magazine recommended piling the meats on top of the pasta. You don't want to do that. While it may be authentic, it looks terrible. Instead, cut the sausage into pieces and toss it and the meatballs into the penne. This is lovely peasant food and it is perfect for cold weather. The trenchermen in your family will love this dish. Here's the recipe.

Penne with Sausage Ragu and Sicilian Meatballs...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Gourmet Magazine
Ingredients:
Meatballs
3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs from Italian bread (crusts discarded)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (2 3/4 oz) whole almonds with skin, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
Sausage Ragu
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sicilian Meatballs (above)
12 sweet Italian sausage links (2-pounds total)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
2 cups dry red wine (i.e. Chianti)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in puree
1/2 bay leaf
Pasta
1-1/2 ponds ridged penne
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1) To make meatballs: Place bread crumbs and milk in a medium bowl. Stir to mix. Pulse almonds with sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add to bread crumb mixture, along with remaining ingredients, and mix with your hands until just combined. Roll mixture into 1-inch meatballs and transfer to a plate. Refrigerate if not cooking immediately.
2) To make the sausage ragu: Heat oil in a large 8 to 9-quart pot until oil shimmers. Working in batches, brown meatballs, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate. Prick sausages with a fork and brown in the same pot, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer to another plate. Reduce heat to moderate and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrance is released, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and puree and bay leaf. Return sausages and meatballs, along with accumulated juices to center of pot. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
3) To prepare pasta: Bring 6 to 8 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt and return to a boil. Following package directions, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well and return to pot.
4) To serve: Add peas to ragu and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta. Cut sausage into 2-inch pieces. Add sausage and meatballs to pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 to 10 generous servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:
Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs - Gonna Want Second
Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage - The Sweet's Kitchen
Pasta Ponza - Playing House
Chicken Lasagna - The Brunette Foodie
Sausage and Mushroom Cannelloni - What's Cookin' Chicago?
Orecchiette with Spicy Italian Sausage - Chewing the Fat
Baked Penne with Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers and B.A.C.O.N. - The Recipe Girl
Farfalle with Mushrooms and Sausage - Angelnina's Cottage

58 comments :

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

What a flavorful dish you've come up with Mary! Cinnamon and meats seem to go so well together I think.

Looking forward to seeing your lemon creations. Have a good weekend,
Brittany

Carrie said...

You had me at "penne." It's my favorite type of pasta.

This sounds delicious! I've never heard of putting nuts into meatballs before, but it's an intriguing idea. Must try this out.

Pondside said...

Sounds delicious! A nice hearty pasta dish for a cold February evening.

Dora said...

Looks great! I luv pasta!

Honestly Good Food said...

Nothing beats a good meat sauce, just looking at the ingredients on this one tells me that it's good!

sophia said...

Hee the peasants didn't care at all about appearance of their food...just the heartiness and the taste, which this penne does not lack at all!!
The meatballs sound so intriguing. When I get some freetime...uh, some time, they are definitely on my list of things to cook. :-)

Ana Rita said...

For me this is confort food...It warm the bellie and the soul.
Now i'll wait for the lemon goodies...

Kisses,
Rita

Priyanka said...

HI Mary long time.....
I love ur pasta dish...its great :)

Cherine said...

What a flavorful tempting dish!!

bellini valli said...

Pinenuts, Italians sausage, red wine here can you go wrong in this delicious recipe Mary!

Jeannie said...

What a delicious plate of pasta...love the look of those meatballs! yum!

Angie's Recipes said...

This is one super comfort food for weekend!

Hélia said...

For pasta is always a good dish.

Mary I stop by your blog every day, because I really love your recipes.

kisses

Hélia

Rita said...

What a perfect pasta dish; adding peas is a great idea. I love cooking with pene and that sausa\ge ragout sound perfect.
Rita

Suman Singh said...

penne pasta is one of my favorite and that looks so flavorful and tempting..

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook said...

Sounds and looks delicious! Perfect dish of hearty food!
Looking forward to more lemons, too!

Leyla said...

Hi mary thanks for your visiting my blog
i love it all typ from pasta
looks great!!!!!!
Mary i love your blog
have a wonderful weekend
leyla

Laura said...

Yum yum yum! Sounds like a perfect pasta - thanks for sharing!

Clint said...

Ummm ummm.....

Am looking forward to eating that with a nice glass of chianti. Cheers!

Kath said...

What a fantastic looking dish! With meatballs and sausage, it's fit for a special occasion dinner.

StephenC said...

This has been bookmarked! Thanks for a great idea, Mary.

Cooking Architecture said...

Mary, this pasta looks incredibly delicious! We are glad you stopped by our site because now we have found yours! Can't wait for the lemon treats!

A Year on the Grill said...

Outstanding!

And the days are getting longer, so more photo time is coming!!!

Bookmarked this, plan to make it sometime this week! As always, great recipe, great background info

Dave

Chiara said...

delicious recipe Mary,endless compliments from your Italian friend....A hug...

lena said...

those meatballs sound special to me, really looking forward to your lemon mousse cake

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Sounds just the sort of dish for a cold and grey day like today. Diane

Ethnic Girl Fun said...

Yummy! I do want to try this and soon! May be for Shrove Tuesday?

EliFla said...

This pasta is good even for the "Dome"..... I will wait for your lemon recipes....have a wonderful weekend ...hugs and xxxxx... ciao Flavia....do you know I lve in Sicily??? And that here lemons are very very gooooood???

Rachel said...

This dish sounds as if it would be bursting with flavor! We absolutely love Italian sausage with pasta...bookmarking this one for sure!

Kim said...

I will definitly try this recipe because it looks so good... I'm looking forward for theses lemony recipes!

Kris said...

Oh mercy me! Does that ever look wonderful! I must make this!

tasteofbeirut said...

I love this dish and it reminded me of our very own Daoud Bacha which is meatballs and pine nuts simmered in tomato sauce. Love the cinnamon, as it is a spice we use with meats rather than sweets.

Eliana said...

I don't mind that the lemon extravaganza has been postponed because this pasta dish looks incredible Mary. Love it.

Jen_from_NJ said...

The ragu flavored with the sausage and beef sounds just delicious. I love the idea of currants and pine nuts in the meatballs - the hint of cinnamon sounds great too.

Maria Dolores said...

Excelente plato y con una salsa deliciosa.
Saludos

Joanne said...

No need to apologize when you're providing us with such an amazing recipe! Thankfully I have no children to pick out any of the good bits. Also thankfully because it means I don't have to share!

Big Dude said...

While the lemon treats have looked very good, I'm not a big dessert person, but this dish looks like something I could jump all over. Except I'm not sure about sweet and fruit in the meatballs - I'm a little traditional here. I'd have to make a very small batch to try first. Looks like the peasants ate pretty well.

Sunanda said...

Pasta looks extremely delicious.. Nice click..

lostpastremembered said...

So many recipes for Sicilian meatballs! I love the almonds and pinenuts and currants... but then I'm a grown-up... It must make for a delicious sauce... NUM!

Claudia said...

I made a sausage ragu last week and it is indeed so warming and hearty. Now I am wishing I had your extraordinary Sicilian meatballs to go with it.

All That I'm Eating said...

Nuts in meatballs? I must try this. Looks so yummy! Also, I'm looking forward to your lemon thins recipe.

teresa said...

oh my goodness! it's about dinner time around here and i would give anything to dive into that glorious plate of pasta!

Cucina di Barbara said...

This dish looks really amazing, full of flavour!
it is a perfect comby dish!
Love your italian style:) Have a nice week end!
Barbara

Ginny said...

Oh, lovely!!! I can't wait for those lemon cookies!!! So glad you are putting friends before the blog and computer!!! Sometimes that can be hard for a commited blogger.

PeggyR said...

This looks very good!

Emma said...

Oh yum you've given me the perfect recipe for when our weather gets colder, absolutely delicious.

Looking forward to the lemon recipes too!

That Girl said...

I feel like I'm all about Italian food lately. And fennel sausage is everywhere I turn.

Biren @ Roti n Rice said...

It does sound perfect for winter and it is making me hungry. I know of two teenage boys who would devour this in no time ;) Have a good weekend!

yummychunklet said...

This looks really hearty and delicious. I can't wait to see your lemon treats!

Elin said...

Mary...this is a super duper meal for the weekend. Thanks for sharing. I am now looking for easy and tasty pasta dish and this is one great one for sure :)

Have a wonderful weekend :)
Elin

Elaine said...

I can just imagine the kids picking out the currants and pine nuts. :) This looks like such a hearty and comforting meal.

Angela said...

That looks great! The meatballs sound insanely good!

La Cucina del Topino said...

Looks fantastic, just what I need for a perfect dinner! Kisses

Simply Life said...

oooh my husband would love this!

Elisabeth said...

Such a wonderful and comforting Sicilian dish, that brings back great memories, from there!
Incidentally, I also posted a Sicilian dish on my recent post.
A coincidence, your pretty blue plate is the exact replica of my daughter's set.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Mary, I am catching up on my blog reading after being out of town for a few days and this recipe sounds perfect for my husband! The lemon thins sound perfect for me! =) I'm not sure I want to tackle the Lemon Mousse Cake though! LOL! I'll stick to the "ridiculously simple". ;) Blessings ~ Tanna

Jenn said...

This Italian wants three large bowls of that....thank you!!! Mary, this looks fantastic! All those flavors...all that meat!! YUM!

Tessa said...

I am hungry as I sit here, and this looks so good! Thanks for your visit to my blog last week. Your comments were very sweet!

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