From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I first featured this Patricia Wells recipe in 2008. While this pasta dish captures the soul of regional French cooking, it's not at all fussy and it is so simple to make that you might want to include it in your your collection of back to school suppers recipes. Pasta, sweet sausage and fennel are simmered together in a rich wine reduction before being coated with a mixture of egg and cheese. 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. So, gather the family around the table for this simple pasta feast. Here is how the dish is made.
Pasta with Fennel, Sweet Sausage and Wine...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Patricia Wells
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.
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