This is the first recipe from The Frankies Spuntino Cooking Manual and I love, love, love it! The kitchen aromas perfumed the house with the sautéed sausage and the sage cooked in butter. I was in my element (happy face).
Sage is an aromatic herb with strong spice flavors and sometimes smells a bit like eucalyptus. It’s perfect to use for seasoning fatty meats such as pork, lamb, mutton, and game (goose or duck). It also goes well with onions, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes. Sage is often added to stuffing and cheeses.
It has been used throughout the centuries as a medicinal herb. The ancient Greeks considered sage to be a valuable healing herb, and used it to treat consumption, ulcers and other digestive problems.
adapted from The Frankies Spuntino Cooking Manual
1 pound hot Italian pork sausage (4 to 6 links depending on the size of the sausage)
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
8-10 sage leaves
freshly ground white pepper
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
Put a large pot of water on to boil and salt it well.
Meanwhile, put the sausage into your widest sauté pan with 1-inch of water and turn the heat to medium. After 10 minutes, flip the sausages over and simmer for another 5 minutes (replenish the water if it threatens to boil off). After 15 minutes the sausages should be firm and cooked through. Remove sausages to a cutting board (discard the water) and slice into coins just shy of ½ inch. (You can do this an hour or even a day ahead of time if you like.)
Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. After a minute, add the sausage coins in an even layer and let them cook, untouched, unstirred, unfussed with, until they’re deeply browned on the first side. (If there’s not enough room to brown all the sausage in one pan — which there will very probably not be — split it between two pans or brown it in two batches and use as additional tablespoon of butter.) Flip and brown them on the other side. The browning is integral to the ultimate depth of flavor of the finished dish — don’t deviate from this. When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan (a plate lined with paper towels is a nice place to hold it) and return the pan to the burner.
Keep the heat at medium-high and add the sage, the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, and a few twists of white pepper. Stir the butter and scrape the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. After a minute or two, it should stop foaming and start to take on color. That’s when you should drop the ricotta cavatelli into the boiling water. Continue to cook the butter until it’s deeply browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes more, which should be just about how long the cavatelli takes to cook.
Do not drain the cavatelli too thoroughly. The water clinging to the pasta will give the sauce body. Add it to the butter sauce along with the sausage and stir. Add the cheese, stir again, and portion the cavatelli among several serving plates. Scatter each with a couple of pinches of parsley. Serve immediately.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: When I tossed the pasta into the pan I was delighted to see how it mopped up the browned butter. I added a splash of the pasta water to the pan and the taste factor in this dish was out of this world. Give this a bash – you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!