I firmly believe a bowl of sausage pasta and the prospect of a night watching films with your best people should be prescribed as a cure for all ills. There are no hard and fast rules. You could add a few peas to the sauce, use crème fraîche rather than cream, omit the chilli and use any kind of soss you fancy, from a proper Italian fennel-flecked number to a pack of Sainsbury’s Cumberland.
The only thing you must do is to properly brown the nuggets of meat, and go heavy on the lemon. The pasta shape is your choice and yours alone, though I’d make a case for something that is going to catch the sauce – finding a bit of sausage in a pasta tube or shell is a very good thing.
My final suggestion is that you buy a garlic baguette to eat with it. And when I say garlic baguette I mean the supermarket kind that will probably burn your fingers and the roof of your mouth. There are some things in life that are better than their more gastronomic cousins. Somehow, a homemade garlic bread just doesn’t do it in the way that a £1.60 twin pack from Tesco will.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
1. First, set a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
2. Remove the sausagemeat from its skins and break the meat into nuggets.
3. Set a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add a splash of oil, and once the pan and oil are hot, add the sausage nuggets. Fry them until well browned and gnarly all over. Transfer them from the pan with a slotted spoon to a plate. Don’t pile them on top of each other too much or they’ll go soggy.
4. Turn the heat down low under the pan. There should be a good bit of sausage fat in the pan, but add a splash more oil. Fry the shallots with a pinch of salt for 8 minutes, or until softened and golden. Then, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Thanks to your sausage-y pan, this is all going to go pretty gnarly as opposed to leaving you with perfectly translucent softened shallots and garlic. But that’s OK. Gnarliness = flavour.
5. Add the fennel seeds and chilli flakes and cook for 1 minute, then return the sausage nuggets to the pan.
6. Pour in the wine and let it bubble up. Add the grated nutmeg to taste and the lemon zest and juice. Simmer for 1 minute, then turn the heat off and add the cream. Stir everything together and leave it all to sit while the pasta cooks.
7. Cook the pasta in the water, which is by now at a rolling boil, until al dente. Reserve a little cooking water when you drain it.
8. Turn the heat back on low under the sauce. Add the pasta and cooking water to the sausage pan along with the handful of grated Parmesan and some black pepper. Use tongs to toss everything together, making sure all the pasta is coated in sauce. Then add the parsley and toss again.
9. Serve in warm bowls with extra Parmesan to grate over each bowl.
Recipe from The Art of Friday Night Dinner, by Eleanor Steafel, out on 30 March (Bloomsbury, £26)
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