Tag Archives: Italian sausage

Clams with sausage & beans

19 Apr

Some friends were returning from a luxurious island holiday recently. As their plane would arrive home on the lateish side I decided to be a nice guy and leave something in their fridge for when they got back. Why I did this I am not entirely certain. I had offered — on numerous occasions — to accompany them on their weeklong getaway, pointing out my not insignificant skills as a valet. To no avail. What made me decide on this particular dish I haven’t a clue either. I like it. But I wasn’t going to be eating it — now, was I?

Friendship, I will admit, often bewilders me.

Anyhow, in a pan that’s large enough to steam a bunch of clams, saute an onion, four cloves of garlic, some hot pepper, and four anchovy fillets in olive oil. Also add some herbs; I’ve used thyme and marjoram here. Saute until the onions are softened but not browned. (And, yes, you can ditch the anchovy and/or hot pepper if you like.)

Add one pound of sweet Italian sausage meat.

After the meat has browned a bit, add 1 1/2 cups of broth (I used chicken here) and allow to boil for around 10 minutes.

Add one 15-ounce can of cannellini beans (drained) and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add a dozen or more whole clams (there are 18 mahogany clams here), then cover the pan and allow the clams to cook all the way through until all have opened. This should take 5 to 10 minutes; discard any clams that do not open.

Mix in a handful of freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Or, stick in somebody else’s fridge and let them serve it.

Either way, I won’t be getting any.

Pasta, sausage, grapes & wine

4 Mar
I was a breath away from posting two vegetarian dishes in a row when out of nowhere appeared a bunch of really nice sweet Italian sausages. They came from a local butcher here in town, a gift from an acquaintance who on occasion swings by the house, well, unannounced.
This person’s timing is impeccable. Never does he/she arrive so close to dinner time that I cannot find a way to incorporate the item or items inside of the bag that arrives with them. Once it was an entire pork roast, another six different kinds of shellfish; on one particularly memorable occasion it was an 11-pound fresh turkey.
And so you could see why a mere couple pounds of sweet sausage didn’t rattle me. A day earlier I had decided to alter a recipe which (coincidentally) called for sausage as a main ingredient. The recipe, Strozzapreti with Sausage, Grapes and Red Wine, was from Carmellini’s “Urban Italian.” I didn’t have strozzapreti on hand but did have a really nice matriciani to use in its place. I was also about to substitute walnuts for the sausage (go ahead Kitty; you too Mavis and Little Glodes), but then of course my visitor showed up.
This recipe (reprinted in its entirety below) requires that you plan a day ahead, eight hours actually. The grapes need to be sliced and mixed with sugar, vinegar and wine.
Then they need to macerate overnight in the fridge.
Boil the mixture until the liquid reduces by around half. While this is happening you’re also sauteing the sausage meat in another pan, as well as boiling your pasta.
Add the grapes to the sausage.
And then add the pasta, mix thoroughly, and serve.
I still think the walnuts would be a nice substitution. Next time I won’t answer the doorbell. And hope my acquaintance just goes away.
Strozzapreti with Sausage, Grapes and Red Wine
Recipe
Adapted from “Urban Italian,” by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half lengthwise
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 lb strozzapreti pasta (I used matriciani here)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage (about 4 links)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
10 sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1. Combine the grapes, wine, sugar, and vinegar in an airtight container and store in the fridge at least 8 hours.
2. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
3. In a medium saucepot, bring the grape mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
4. Cook the pasta until al dente.
5. Remove sausage meat from casings, heat olive oil in a pan and add the meat; cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the onion and continue cooking, stirring well, until sausage is well browned and onions have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sage leaves and stir to combine. 
7. Add the grape mixture and stir well.
8. Add the cooked pasta and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat, add the butter, cheese and black pepper, stirring well. Add the parsley and serve immediately, topped with additional cheese.

How to make sausage

17 Jan
There was a Mutiny on the Meatball a couple weeks back, and it was all because of a sausage. Not the sausage you’re looking at, another one. Guess I’d better explain.
See, every New Year’s, Tom and Beth hop a bus from New York (they don’t care much for flying) and spend about a week or so at the house. It’s pretty much nonstop eating and drinking, with at least one or two big projects on tap to keep everybody sharp. Since no particulars were discussed ahead of time (unusual for this crowd) I had decided on my own that one of this year’s group undertakings might be to produce a mortadella, a first for any of us, to be sure.
Mortadella, if you are not aware, is a sausage. My friend Joe (aka Mister Bigshot World Traveler and uomo about Rome) callously refers to this glorious Italian salumi as boloney or cold cuts or, worst of all, lunch meat. He does this, I am pretty certain, to hurt me, as he knows how much I love the fatty stuff. But this is not the place to get into all of that. (Note to Joe, though: I was out of town. It was 25 years ago. Get over it!)
To be truthful, I could not recall either Tom’s or Beth’s position on the sausage. However, before their arrival, I went ahead and secured the ingredients required to make it nonetheless.
Big mistake. For, as it happens, my normally fit and ready crew, comprised of individuals whom I have relied upon in many a difficult culinary challenge, shattered a deep trust by staging a quiet yet powerful coup that proved far too great for me to overcome. (You don’t see a freaking mortadella here do you?)
I could list the many objections put forth — neophytes ought not mess with PhD-level sausage-making projects; strict temperature requirements were far too demanding given our facility; you (that would be me) are not the most reliable follower of recipes, and in this case following directions is crucial — but I won’t. Suffice to say I was aghast. And wondered if I might learn to trust these people ever again.
Please. I need a moment.
Okay, so we polished off a couple bottles of vino and decided to make a batch of sweet Italian sausage instead. Way simpler. And, most importantly, my mutinous, scurvy kitchen crew seemed entirely willing to lend a hand.
Whaddaya gonna do?
The pork butt that was at the center of it all (yes, you use it to make mortadella). It’s about four pounds, and gets cut up into one-inch cubes.
The back fat also gets cubed; there’s about a pound of it here. (The full recipe follows, by the way, in case you were taking notes.)
The spice mixture: Kosher salt, sugar, minced garlic, toasted fennel seeds, ground black pepper and paprika. (There’s also vinegar, but that goes in later on.)
The cubed butt, back fat and spices are mixed together, then put into the fridge before grinding. (Note to novice sausage makers: It’s important that everything be cold when you’re grinding. We even put the grinding attachment and the die in the freezer before using it.)
We used the KitchenAid grinder attachment, the small one, to grind the mixture. The platter that the ground sausage mix falls into must be cold; this blue one is resting in a pan filled with ice and water.
All ground up and ready to go (after you add the vinegar and some water). This is also the time to pinch off a small bit of the mixture and fry it. That way you can taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary, before committing yourself.
The casings (which I got from Pat’s, a local butcher shop that makes good sausage) need to soak in water for about half an hour.
Then you need to clean them clear through by flushing them with water. The simplest way is to attach one end to the faucet and run the cold water for a couple minutes.
Like so.
Get your mind out of the gutter. This is the sausage stuffing attachment, and we’re sliding about ten feet of casings onto it. The idea is to move all the casings up onto the attachment, so that when the meat starts coming out, the casings unfurl along with it.
Sausage mix goes in the top, slides out the side.
And into the casing it goes.
And goes.
Until you’ve gone through the whole batch of stuffing mix.
Twist into five- or six-inch sausage links and they’re ready to cook, freeze or refrigerate.
We were hungry, and so we went the cooking route.
And, yes, they were so good that I almost forgot about the mortadella. And the mutiny.
Sweet Italian Sausage
Recipe from “Charcuterie,” by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder butt, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 pound pork back fat, diced into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
3/4 cup ice water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
10 feet hog casings, soaked in tepid water for at least 30 minutes and rinsed
Combine all ingredients except the water and vinegar, then chill until ready to grind.
Grind the meat through a small die into a bowl set in ice.
Add the water and vinegar to the meat mixture and mix until incorporated.
Saute a small piece to taste it; adjust seasoning if necessary.
Stuff the sausage into the hog casings, and twist into 6-inch links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.

It happened at the farmers’ market

27 Jun

The one thing I knew that I had to grab at the Saturday farmers’ market was this broccoli rabe. See, I’d gotten some sweet Italian sausage from one of the vendors the week before, but hadn’t been able to use them, and so into the freezer they went.
I had a plan.
The market was just lousy with garlic scapes, and so I picked up half a dozen for a buck.
The chopped up scapes, a little hot pepper and a few anchovies get going in the extra virgin.
Then the sausage.
And the rabe.
With the orecchiette, and a sprinkling of cheese, of course.