AT THE RESTAURANT, WE MAKE OUR OWN SAUSAGE. I think it’s so much more important for chefs and cooks to learn how to create products like that than just know how to grill an expensive piece of meat. For most people, sausage is cheap and approachable, but to make it yourself — and to make it well — is a different thing. You control the quality of the meat, the fat content, the spices… everything. Maybe you’ll make your own sausage for this dish. If not, you can use whatever flavour of sausage you like best — spicy or sweet. Just try and make sure it’s made with the best-quality pork, coarse-ground.
- 60 ml (¼ cup) butter
- 500 g (1 lb) pork sausage, casings removed
- ½ bulb fennel, minced
- ½ red onion, minced
- 1 rib celery, minced
- 1 small carrot, minced
- 1 tbsp fennel seed, toasted and ground
- 1 tbsp coriander seed, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp (or more to taste) chili flakes
- 1 800 ml (28 oz) can top-quality Italian plum tomatoes
- 60 ml (¼ cup) whipping cream
- 500 g (1 lb) dried pasta of choice (long or short, or egg noodles)
- 250 ml (1 cup) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Heat 2 tbsp butter in a skillet on medium, and once it foams, add the sausage meat. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat browns — about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a plate while leaving most of the fat in the pan. Lower heat to medium-low. If the pan seems dry, add 1 tbsp butter. Add fennel, onion, celery and carrot and stir. Add a generous pinch of salt, ground fennel and coriander seed, and chili to taste. Sweat, stirring until vegetables soften and the pan seems dry — about 10 minutes. Do not allow vegetables to colour. Return sausage meat to the pan and add the tomatoes. Add some water to the can and swirl it around to capture the tomato residue and add that to the pan, too. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the fat is visible on the surface — about 30 minutes. Add the cream and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens — about 10 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta of choice and cook to desired doneness. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and return to the pot; add sauce and combine. Stir in reserved butter and reserved pasta water to taste. Divide between warm pasta bowls and top with Parmigiano Reggiano.
Photos by Leila Kwok