Monday, October 6, 2014

Franny's Fusilli with Pork Sausage Ragu

I am obsessed with the Franny's cook book! I think I have made just about every pasta recipe, maybe even twice. It has been my go-to for casual Friday nights in, and cookbook recipes are even more fun to follow when you are hanging out with friends over a bottle (or two) of wine.

One of my favorite types of pasta sauce is a meaty ragu (duck, pork, lamb, etc), so when I saw this pork sausage ragu I sent it along to Nathan and suggested we try it out. Nathan picked up ingredients at Caputo's Fine Foods (fresh pasta and charcuterie!), a go-to in Carroll Gardens for all things Italian, and Staubitz, a meat purveyor in Cobble Hill. 
When we set out to make this recipe, we didn't realize how long it would take, oops, but it ended up being worth the wait! We had a third guest, Sarah, who didn't mind the long cook time, and we spent most of the inactive prep time catching up with aforementioned multiple bottles of delicious red wine.

Yum, pancetta! And even more yum, pancetta and fat rendering to make a delicious sauce! 

I think the freshly made fusilli made a world of difference - try to find your pasta at an Italian speciality store if you can.

Topped with some ricotta, this pasta was bursting with both cheesy AND meaty goodness. We also had leftovers for days, and I swear the pasta was even better when reheated for lunch. Given how hearty it is, I think it is a good one to stash away for the upcoming winter! 

Fusilli with Pork Sausage Ragu, recipe from the Franny's Cookbook

Serves 4-6

Note: This recipe will take a few hours from start to finish because you have to make the ragu and let it cool down


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds coarse ground pork
  • 2/3 cup 1/4-inch diced pancetta (about 3.5 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2/3 cup finely diced carrots
  • 2/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • 14-ounce can Italian cherry tomatoes, drained and smashed, or canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound fusili 
  • Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh ricotta 
In a heavy stockpot or a Dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground pork and cook until just golden, and try not to overbrown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pot and set aside. 

Add the pancetta to the pot and cook gently over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the meat begins to crisp. Stir in the chili flakes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and parsley and cook until the onion is translucent, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then add the red wine and bring to a simmer. 

Add the pork to the pot, along with the tomatoes, water, and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 40 minutes. 

Remove the lid and continue to simmer until the ragu has thickened nicely, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then let the ragu cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. 

Remove and discard about two-thirds of the fat that has settled on the surface of the ragu, leaving the remaining third to be incorporated back into the sauce. 

In a large pot of well-salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until 2 minutes shy of al dente; drain. 

While the pasta is cooking, in a very large skillet, warm the ragu over medium heat. 

Toss the fusilli into the skillet with the ragu and cook until al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. If the sauce seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water.

Divide the pasta into serving plates or bowls. Top each with a microplane zest of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a dollop of ricotta cheese. 

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