Sausage and Cream Sauce over Orecchiette

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Sausage and Cream Orchiette

Sausage in a cream sauce was not love at first thought, or at first sight, but it was love at first bite.

It just didn’t sound good, but a friend told me it was one of his favorite Marcella recipes. I’m so glad I listened and kept an open mind to put it on the schedule. It doesn’t photograph very well and if it weren’t on the schedule, I might opt out of posting, but it is a worthwhile dish to try.

The challenge of this dish from Bologna is that Marcella requests we use a sausage that has no spices, no fennel, reminiscent of something she knows from Italy. Well, I wasn’t going to use Jimmy Dean, so what do I do? Make my own sausage? Well, sort of. I adapted a recipe from her son, Giuliano Hazan that a member of our group suggested. This is what is fun about cooking recipes with a group. The feedback, the help, the suggestions from each member are so valuable.

I took the suggestion and made the homemade sausage. No worry to stuff the sausage, because the sauce calls for crumbled sausage outside the casing. I like spicy fennel-flavored Italian sausage, so I had to mentally prepare myself for a completely different kind of flavor. I should know better by now, because Marcella’s recipes are always balanced just right and never disappoint.

A dish that at first seems potentially bland is incredibly flavorful, but not in a way you expect. I was sick last week and barely ate, but I went back for seconds on this dish. The crumbly sausage, onion, cream and parmigiano-reggiano work very hard together to bring a dish not quite like I’ve anything I’ve eaten before.
The pasta recommendation is something call crab grass or gramigna, thin curved tubular macaroni. I used orecchiette which held the sauce just as well.

Recipe (adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking) by Marcella Hazan

  • 1/2 pound sweet sausage (containing no fennel seed, chili pepper or other strong seasoning)*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt
  • 1 pound pasta
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

*Guiliano Hazan’s Homemade Sausage

  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  1. Mix well with hands. Cover, rest overnight, use within 2 days.
  2. If you are using a store-bought sausage, skin it first. Add butter and vegetable oil to pan with onion. Cook until onion is pale gold. Add sausage, cook for 10 minutes. Add pepper, cream and turn up to medium high heat, until cream is thickened. Add salt. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Toss with pasta and add freshly grated cheese.

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