Thursday, February 11, 2016

Penne d' Allessandria

This recipe is a true Gruggen family favorite. I cut it out of a magazine ad for an extra virgin olive oil (I think it was for Bertolli) sometime in the last century. And for the last 25+ years, I've been making this at least once a month. It's the dish my oldest son Sean requests every time his birthday rolls around.

I've been making it so long that the recipe is fully engrained in my brain. I was going to write down the steps last time I made it, but then I remembered I had started a notebook back in the late 80's and the recipe was captured therein.

Of the hundreds of recipes I've shared in this blog, this is the one I make the most. Why it has taken me nearly six years to finally share this one is bizarre. But better late than never. Once you try this recipe, I guarantee you will be back to make it again. The recipe serves six very hungry athletes. 

The meal is quintessential northern Italian. Well-browned hot Italian sausage. Sweet roasted bell peppers. Fennel. Basil. Garlic. Turkish oregano. And penne cooked to a perfect al dente. Combine it all together and serve in individual bowls. And the coupe de grâce: a generous dusting of aged Parmigiana Reggiano. Buon appetito!

7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
40 ounces of hot Italian sausage links
1 large yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped.
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon Turkish oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 pound penne pasta
Salt and pepper
Fresh grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese

  1. Cut sausage links into roughly 1-inch pieces (leave casings intact). Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sauté sausages in 2-3 batches in a large Dutch oven. The sausages should be well-browned. When sausages are done, place in a bowl and keep warm.
  2. Cut the onion from pole to pole. Then lay each half flat on a cutting board and slice into half-moon rings.
  3. Add half-moon onion rings to Dutch oven and sauté until onions are limp and translucent (about 5 minutes). 
  4. Add chopped peppers and garlic to the onions in the Dutch oven. Stir for 2 minutes. Then add red pepper flakes, fennel, basil, oregano and thyme. Stir for 2 minutes, then cover and remove from heat.
  5. Boil a large pot of water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Follow instructions on the package to cook penne al dente (usually about 10 minutes).
  6. Five minutes before pasta is done, return Dutch oven to burner and add sausages. Raise heat to medium high and stir frequently to get everything hot again.
  7. When pasta is done cooking, drain pot and add the penne to the Dutch oven. Add 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to Dutch oven. Stir to combine ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve in individual pasta bowls and top each serving with freshly grated cheese.

Wine pairing: Brunello di Montalcino

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