I’ve been eyeing this recipe for Pasta alla Norcina since Christmas when I found it in Cook’s magazine, my new subscription given to me as a gift from my stepdaughter and stepson. Anything cooking related like recipes, kitchen gadgets etc. will make a perfect gift for me. You don’t even have to wait for a perfect occasion, I accept them year-round.
Why was I so excited about this particular pasta recipe? For ones, it is an authentic Italian recipe, or at least as close as it gets without going to Italy. Which I will. This June. I.Can’t.Wait.
Second, the recipe revealed the greatest, most revolutionary thing of all: you can make your own sausage! In your kitchen! In about 10 minutes! How could I not be excited about that?
Pasta alla Norcina is even better the next day, I swear. It’s the best. Sometimes I say to myself, Jas, is anyone really going to believe you when you say that and then I fill in the blanks with whatever recipe I’m about to share with you and tell you it’s the best. And the world is full of best recipes. For example: have you ever searched for chocolate chip cookie recipe and found The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever? Yeah, that one or the best casserole, best dinner rolls and so on. Why would you believe me when I tell you this is the best? Is it really going to get you into the kitchen to make your own sausage when you much rather go to, oh, let’s say Olive Garden and let them cook for you? It is your choice, but if you need to impress your dinner guests this is definitely that one Italian dish you want to serve. Forget lasagna, although, I have a good recipe for Sicilian lasagna here.
Dare I venture out to make different flavor sausages? Why not, it’s super easy.
Ready? Here we go.
½ lb Ground Pork
6 ounces Crimini Mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped
1 lb Orecchiette pasta (or any short pasta, such as shells)
2 cups chopped fresh Spinach (optional)
¾ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (Parmesan is a good substitute)
¾ cup Heavy Cream
½ cup dry White Wine
2 large Garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 ¼ teaspoons minced fresh Rosemary, divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh Parsley
1/8 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
7 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper
In a medium bowl, mix 1 teaspoon salt and baking soda in 4 teaspoons water until dissolved. Add pork and fold gently to combine; let stand 10 minutes.
Add 1 teaspoon garlic, ¾ teaspoon rosemary, nutmeg and ¾ teaspoon pepper to pork and smear with rubber spatula until well combined and sticky, 20 to 30 seconds. The science behind it is that working seasonings into the sausage with a spatula distributes their flavor thoroughly and creates sausage texture. By “smearing” the mixture, we’re forcing the meat’s proteins to stretch out and link up together. It makes the pork appear thick and sticky. Transfer pork mixture to a greased plate and form into rough 6-inch patty.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add patty and cook without moving it until bottom is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip patty and continue to cook until second side is well browned, 2 to 3 minutes longer (very center of the patty will be raw). Remove pan from heat, transfer sausage to cutting board, and chop into ¼ inch pieces. Transfer sausage to bowl and add cream; set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente stirring often because Orecchiette is prone to nest and stuck.
Reserve 1 ½ cups cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
While pasta cooks, return now-empty skillet to medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil, mushrooms, and pinch of salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are browned. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons oil, remaining garlic, remaining rosemary, and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until completely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in spinach (the original recipe didn’t call for spinach but I think it adds color and more nutrition), sausage-cream mixture and ¾ cup reserved cooking water and simmer until meat is no longer pink. Remove pan from heat and stir Pecorino until smooth.
Add sauce, parsley, and lemon juice to pasta and toss well to coat. Before serving, adjust consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, top pasta with shaved cheese. Did you know that lemon juice brings out flavors in pasta?
Looking forward to connecting to you soon.
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