Is there anything more satisfying than a bowl of fresh sauce with a fabulous sauce tossed through it? Today we’re using salsiccia sausage in our sauce with red wine and herbs with strozzapreti one of my favourite types of pasta.
Salsiccia, Italian sausages, are usually made of pure pork, occasionally beef. Fennel seeds and chilli are generally used as the primary spice in the South of Italy and Sardinia, black pepper and garlic are the main spices in the centre and North of Itay and in Puglia they are called “Zampina”. Outside Italy, in the United States, Italian sausage/salsiccia are seasoned with fennel and/or anise as the primary seasoning and marketed as either hot and sweet/mild. The main difference between hot and sweet (mild) is the addition of hot red pepper flakes in the spice mix of the former. In Australia, a variety of mild salsiccia fresca (literally meaning “fresh sausage”) seasoned primarily with fennel is sold as “Italian sausage”.Historically, the name is derived from Vulgar Latin salsīcia (compare Spanish salchicha), plural of salsīcius (“seasoned with salt”).
The most famous sausage in ancient Italy was from Lucania (modern Basilicata) and was called lucanica, a name which is still used for a variety of modern sausage in the Mediterranean. During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, sausages were associated with the Lupercalia festival. Early in the 10th century during the Byzantine Empire, Leo VI, the Wise, outlawed the production of blood sausages following cases of food poisoning.Sausages, no matter where they are made, are the logical outcome of exceptionally efficient butchery. Traditionally, sausage makers would salt various tissues and organs such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat to help preserve them. They would then stuff them into tubular casings made from the cleaned intestines of the animal, producing the characteristic, cylindrical, sausage shape. Hence, sausages, puddings, and salami are among the oldest of prepared foods, whether cooked and eaten immediately or dried to varying degrees in the form of salamis and so on. The Greek poet Homer mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey, Epicharmus wrote a comedy titled The Sausage, and Aristophanes’ play The Knights is about a sausage-vendor who is elected leader. Historical evidence suggests that sausages were already popular both among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and most likely with the various tribes occupying the larger part of Europe.Traditionally, sausage casings were made of the cleaned intestines, or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings. Today, though, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose, or plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages, although some forms of sausage, such as sliced sausage, are prepared without a casing.
Recipe ( Serves 4 )
- 200g of salsiccia sausage ( casing removed)
- 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 80g of smoked pancetta
- A large glass of red wine
- A large squeeze of tomato purée
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
- A liberal handful of parmigiano
- A glug of extra virgin olive oil
- A large pinch of salt
- A large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 300g of fresh strozzapreti or pasta of your choice
- A couple of sprigs of thyme, some reserved for garnish
Remove the salsiccia from its casing and crumble the meat so it resembles mince in consistency.In a large pan add the olive oil and sauté the carrot, onion and celery until it is translucent. Next add the pancetta and sausage meat.Continue to sauté until both the pancetta and sausage are browned. Add the chopped tomatoes, wine and a pinch of fresh thyme leaves. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes before adding the tomato purée. Stir in and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Whilst the sauce continues to simmer, boil a large saucepan of water. When the water is boiling add a large pinch of salt then the strozzapreti. Stir, then leave to cook according to instructions. Once the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving a small glassful of the pasta cooking water. Toss the strozzapreti into the sauce, stir, add the pasta water, stir, check for seasoning then serve up. Spoon the pasta into bowl, add the parmigiano to taste, a twist of black pepper and a sprig of thyme for garnish.