I really love the cookbook Pasta by Eric Treuille. The recipes are simple yet deeply flavorful. Every time I've made anything from it there is always just a little twist that helps it stand out from any similar pasta dish.
This recipe is a case in point. It seems like a simple pasta sauce and yet it is smoothly spicy in a way that we quickly became addicted to.
The only change I made was to double the meat. This was simply because I wanted to use up the entire 16-ounce package of Italian sausage, which was the only size available at the particular store I was at. It wasn't an overpowering presence, possibly because the sausage itself was fairly mild. We liked it that way so I left that possibility in the recipe.
Spicy Sausage Ragu
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Heat oil in a skillet. Cook onion and garlic over medium high heat, stirring frequently, unstil soft and pale gold, 5 minutes.
8-16 ounces Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14-ounce can chopped Italian plum tomatoes
Add sausage. Cook, stirring to break up, until browned, 10 minutes. Add all remaining. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 minutes.
2/3 cup heavy cream
Add cream. Cook, stirring until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
1 pound dried pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan to serve
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, until firm to the bite. Drain. Add pasta to the hot sauce. Toss well to coat. Serve immediately with Parmesan. Serves 4-6.
You can make the sauce up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate. Or freeze it up to a month. Defrost overnight in fridge.