Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Italian Sausage and Shells


Printable version
A few months back I made a huge pot of chili using Italian flavors and seasonings rather than the usual Mexican flavors. The chili was good, but it tasted as though something was missing. This recipe is an improvement upon the original idea of Italian chili. The addition of pasta shells really helped complete the dish. It may have been the starch or just the need for a vehicle to bind everything together, but whatever it was, its addition sent this out of the park.

I took this to a gathering for a hardy snack and it disappeared in less than 15 minutes. I thought the dish was delicious from the beginning but it disappeared right away. The faster it goes the better the food - unless the people eating haven't eaten for days - and that was not the case here.

Many people will give food a small sample first, then go back for more. When a bunch of people go for that second try the dish will vanish in no time. When that happens you known you did something right.

BEHIND THIS BITE
This is another recipe created for a crowd, I used a large dutch oven for this rather than a slow cooker. It was easier to do on the stove. I was really happy with how this turned out, the sausage had great flavor and, like a said in the beginning, the pasta brought everything together. It’s really a hardy bite, there is a lot of fuel in a few mouthfuls.

It’s important to use a good quality sausage here because it will make or break the entire dish. It’s the seasoning, there are other flavors to compliment, but the spice and flavor of the sausage are front and center. I personally like to buy sausage in links, rather than bulk and remove the sausage from the case. In my experience the bulk sausage is a bit more greasy than what’s in the casing. It could just be me, but I always seem to get a better end result when I use it instead of bulk.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Make 12 to 15 servings; 1 hour
3 lbs Italian sausage
1 C Green pepper, diced
1 C Red onion, diced
1 Tbs Garlic, minced
1 jar Traditional pasta sauce (24 oz)
1 box Shells (16oz)
1/2 C Fresh grated parmesan

Brown sausage
Start pasta, see below. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat cook sausage until just cooked through and browned, 6 to 8 minutes, break up large chunks, stir occasionally. Remove to paper-towel lined plate and drain all but 1 tablespoon of drippings.

Cook vegetables
Add onion and green pepper to pot and sauté in reserved drippings until soft 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in garlic cook one minute more.

Finish serve
Return sausage to pot, add sauce and stir together with vegetables. Add pasta once finished and drained. Let mixture cook on low until heated through and simmering. Spoon into a bowl, garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese, then serve.

THE PASTA
Bring a gallon of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta shells, return to a boil and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until al dente, then drain. 

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