Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March 5: Agnolotti with Sausage

I love Italian sausage in almost any application you can find for it. If you'll go back, you'll see my very first recipe of the new year (right after Hoppin' John for New Year's Eve) was a dish with sausage and peppers over penne, one of my very favorite things.

I like sausage on pizza. I like it on pasta. I like it in sandwiches, in calzone, on the grill. I am willing to consider it in almost any context, with the exception of dessert. Last year, we discovered a roadside stand in Maryland's Amish country that sells freshly-made sweet and hot sausages, both in bulk and hand-stuffed in links. It is so much better than anything you'd find in a store. This same place, I should add, is across the road from Charlotte Hall Market, where you can buy a knockoff Gucci purse and a LED lighted belt buckle that you can (but probably shouldn't) program to say different things, like "My Boo" and "Baby Mama." That's on one side of the market; on the other, the Amish sell live animals, homegrown vegetables, and fresh dairy products. Yes, it is a really weird place, but it's the only place you can get an elephant ear in Maryland in January.

I haven't spent a lot of time at Martha Stewart's website, but now that my best friend is contemplating her baby shower, I am all about the Martha. She has an extensive collection of recipes, and this is one of hers. I'm all for new variations on my theme of sausage, and this sounded good to me. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm on a diet, so this dish with sausage, peas, pasta, cream, and oil probably won't happen any time soon, but if I were making it, I would substitute half of the sweet sausages for hot for a good balance, but follow your own preferences.

This serves six.

Agnolotti With Sausage

1/2 cup (about 1 stick) unsalted butter
2 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound sweet Italian sausage,, casings removed
Coarse salt, (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, (to taste)
1 (10 ounces) frozen petite peas, not defrosted
2 pounds agnolotti, fresh fettuccine, or 1 1/2 pounds dry pasta such as shells, orecchiette, or rotini

In a medium heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions. Cook until onions are soft and have lost their moisture. It may be necessary to adjust the heat so that onions do not brown. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to cook so that onions brown slowly, stirring frequently, until dark brown but not burned, about 45 minutes total cooking time. It may be necessary to adjust the heat to prevent them from burning.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Crumble sausage into skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Do not to let the meat dry out. Add cream, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large heat-proof bowl. Break sausage into marble-size pieces, if necessary. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas and onions to sausage in bowl. Add agnolotti to boiling water. Place bowl over pot of boiling water to warm through. Cook until al dente, following label directions. Strain pasta, and add to bowl with sausage mixture along with a few tablespoons boiling water. The sauce should not be wet or runny. The agnolotti should be well coated and shiny from the sauce. Transfer to serving dishes, and season with pepper. Serve immediately.

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