What 3 things would you take with you to a desert island? An unlimited supply of beer? Cases of sunscreen? Your dream date?
Its a tough question. I think perhaps, a thousand cases of the best wines from around the world, ten thousand cases of the best bottled water...
Of course, the desert island would have to have enough trees to burn so I could have a constant fire going. Unless it's salami, or another kind of air-cured style, raw sausage is no bueno. So, I'd also have to have a chain saw, plenty of 2-cycle gasoline and a log splitter. Then there's the question of matches...
But those are details, people. Details!
Even as a tiny child, I recognized the earth-shattering significance of the gift the Creator gave, the day humans chopped meat, fat, salt and spices, stuffed the whole mess into intestines, bladder or stomach, and cooked it. I'm sure early sausage was diabolical to the point of dangerous. That's the beauty of evolution; human beings will throw themselves at the same wall again and again, until they get it right.
And boy, did they get it right.
According to Wikipedia, sausage is the "logical outcome of efficient butchery". I love that. When logical and butchery can be combined in the same sentence, its a good day in the world of wordcraft. I also believe some quick-thinking young entrepreneur should design and produce a full line of Logical Butchery casual wear. Every Chef I know would order at least a dozen t-shirts!
The Old French word, saussiche- meaning "salted"- is the origin for the contemporary English word sausage.1 Prior to modern refrigeration, food had to be salted, sugared, or dried to preserve it past the growing season. These methods still work perfectly today, sometimes even more reliably than cooling to 40 degrees. Most traditional sausage is formed inside an intestine casing, although some is left out in "bulk", and can increasingly be found in synthetic casings.
Styles of sausage vary from region to region, depending on the culture, climate, and crops. Chorizo, from Spain, Kielbasa from Poland, and good-old American breakfast sausage round out my top 3 favorites. Great tomes have been written on the tremendous culinary possibilities, and geographically wide-ranging source options of sausage. So I must abandon my chopped meat love-letter and move on to today's recipe featuring...
Cut from Martha Stewart Living in November of 2003, this recipe has a distinctively Italian feel. It calls for all my favorites; pasta, sausage, wine, and cheese. The escarole component is interesting too. Part of the endive family of plants, escarole has a slightly bitter note, but not offensively so. It adds to the overall flavor complexity of this dish, so do try to source it if you can. Wilted kale, or even chopped broccoli could be substituted, if necessary.
The Rediscovered Recipe Box #18- Pasta With Sausage And Escarole
1 pound rigatoni or other tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground pepper
1 large head escarole, cut horizontally into thirds and stemmed
Parmesan cheese, for shaving
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions. Drain pasta.
2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sausage; cook, stirring, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Pour in wine; stir to deglaze pan. Add cream, parsley, rosemary, and red-pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add escarole; cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, 8-10 minutes.
3. Stir pasta into skillet; cook until cream has started to thicken and pasta is al dente, about 3 minutes. Garnish with cheese, and serve.