Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pasta: Penne with Sausage & Peppers

Serves 4 to 6
(depending on who’s eating and how well you made it)

When you come from a New York borough OTHER than Manhattan, it’s pronounced sawsage ‘n’ pepezz. If you never heard of the other boroughs that make up New York City, then you’re a noob and you really need to get out more. And by the way, wandering over to Canal Street after 5 pm doesn’t improve your NYC street cred either. Get a metro card and get on the Q, loser.

Now on with it:

What you’ll need:
• A pot big enough for a box of pasta
• A colander
• A big frying/sauce pan
• Tongs (these make things so much easier)
• A sharp knife
• A cutting board

• 1 box of penne (or your favorite cut f pasta – they all taste the same)
• 4 – 6 sausage links (about 1 ½ lbs) sweet or hot – your preference
• 2 – 3 small peppers any color
• 2 cloves garlic minced
• ½ small onion diced
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• salt & pepper to taste
• 1 tsp oregano
• 1 tsp basil (or small handful of fresh basil)

I came up with this recipe when I saw a commercial for Italian sausage. They didn’t give the recipe. I just figured it out from the picture. When you know what flavors go together you can do stuff like that. For right now, don’t.

First things first: fill your pot half way with water, add about 2 tsps salt and put it on a back burner on high for a rolling boil. Keep an eye and ear out while you’re prepping the other ingredients.

Step 1: Choppin’ broccoli! Choppin broccolaaaaaah…well not really

Mince up the garlic and chop up the onion. For those of you who need a refresher course – take the flat side of the knife, place it over the garlic clove and hit it hard with the palm of your hand. The papery outside will come right off. It’s ok if the clove is squashed, you’re gonna mince it up into itty bitty pieces anyway.

Cut the top and tail off the onion. Cut the onion in half and take off the first outer later. I only use half a small onion. The other can be foiled or plastic wrapped for another use. That’ll keep for a week or so.

Wash and pull the seed …uh….plug out from the peppers. I don’t know what they call it ok? It looks like a seed plug, get over it. Slice up the peppers fairly thin, like shoe string fries. I know it looks like a lot, but when you cook them, they’ll soften up and shrink.

I sliced the sausages up into 1 inch chunks. You can leave them whole if you like, but you need to cook them through before adding anything else to the pan. The way I did it is much easier actually.

Step 2: Fryer in the hole

Yes, pasta all tastes the same the only difference is texture. People who say spaghetti tastes different from fusilli are morons. Why? Because both cuts are made with the same ingredients, genius. Moving on.

Check your water to see if it’s boiling. If it is, add the whole box of penne and time 8 minutes at least. If not, wait. Heat the oil on medium and put in a little bit of the onion. When that starts to sizzle and bubble, throw the rest of the onion in and stir it around for about 2 minutes or so until they get clear. If they’re browning, turn the heat down a bit. You don’t want them brown and you don’t want your oil to smoke.

Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. A add the peppers and sausage. Use the tongs to give them a toss through the onion and garlic. Let the heat brown the meat and wilt the peppers, tossing with the tongs now and then so they cook fairly evenly.

Check your pasta. Hopefully you didn’t forget about it like a middle child. If the 8 minutes are up pour it into the colander and let it drain. And for the last time, you do NOT need these gimmicky pasta makers from the shopping network. Any idiot can do this in spite of the black & white dramatization sequences and dorky white people.

Step 3: Shake, rattle and bowl

After the peppers are soft and the meat is brown, add the drained pasta. Toss again with the tongs and add the oregano, basil, pepper and salt. Go easy on the salt! You already salted the water for the pasta and the sausages have salt in them as well. Unless you want to end up with kidney failure, you shouldn’t be adding too much salt to anything. Toss, toss, toss to make sure the seasoning is mixed well.

If you are using fresh basil as opposed to dried, tear up the washed leaves and add in at the last minute. You can also drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil over it, but really that’s just gilding the lily.

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