Rigatoni with Treviso, Sausage and Cream
Makes 4 servings
I couldn’t find breakfast sausage at the meat counter, just sweet Italian. Ali specified that the sausage should not have fennel seeds since they have such a distinct flavor. Unfortunately, the sausage I used was sweet Italian, and it did have fennel seeds. Oops. I still thought this version tasted great. One recommendation the (Italian) butcher gave me: add 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar to the sausage as it’s browning. This will help adjust the flavors (breakfast sausage actually tends to be sweeter) and help the meat caramelize.
1 small onion, diced
1lb uncooked breakfast sausage (or sweet Italian,* just add sugar), removed from casing
1 1/2 tsp sugar* (optional, see note above)
2 small heads of radicchio di treviso (long, not round), halved and cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmiggiano cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.
2. In a large skillet, saute the onion over medium-high heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until tender and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the sausage to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
NOTE: I skipped this step since I don’t have a food processor. It is fine to just add the sausage to the pan and break it up with a spatula into very fine bits as it browns. Just make sure there are no large chunks.
4. Push the onions to the sides of the pan and add the sausage. Continue to cook over high heat, breaking apart the pieces with your spatula, until fully browned and beginning to caramelize. If you are using sweet Italian, add the sugar with the meat.
5. Turn the heat back down to medium, and add the radicchio to the pan. Saute gently until the leaves are very wilted and reduced in size by half.
NOTE: try not to use too much of the base of the radicchio which has no red leaves, and is only stalk/core. If you do, chop it a little finer, as it will take longer to become tender.
6. Turn the heat down to low and add the cream. Saute for a few minutes until incorporated. Add the cheese add toss to combine. Add the drained pasta to the pot and continue to cook for a minute or so. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the cooking water.
7.Serve immediately with some extra grated cheese and some chopped parsley, if you have it on hand.