Rigatoni with Sausage and Fresh Mozzarella Recipe
Last night my wife took my youngest to knitting class so my 11 year old and I decided to prepare a delicious pasta dinner together. I didn't want to go to the grocery store and wanted to finish up some leftovers like the link of cooked Italian sweet sausage from Sunday and that ½ egg of fresh mozzarella cheese.
We came up with this simple pasta dish on the fly. In the time it took us to cook the pasta, we were able to prep and prepare a simply delicious sauce. My daughter picked out the mezzi rigatoni from the pantry but a penne pasta would have worked just as well.
I wouldn't use spaghetti or linguini for this dish because of the sauce. Heartier pastas work well with heartier sauces, and this was definitely a hearty sauce.
We used some leftover sausage that I pan roasted in our wood burning oven but I think you could use fresh sausage too. In fact, if I had not already cooked the sausage, I would have used fresh but removed it from the casing and browned it up a bit.
Brown stock, also called Glace de Viande, is a combination of beef and veal stock that is used by professional chefs for making soups, stews and sauces. It's one of the first things culinary students learn to make in culinary school.
I always have on hand a commercial brown stock reduction called Glace de Viande Gold that comes in a highly concentrated reduction. I used approximately ½ ounce of this product with ½ cup of pasta water but you could use a homemade or commercial beef stock or even chicken stock if that's all you have in your pantry.
Mezzi means half-sized, so mezzi rigatoni is a half-sized rigatoni pasta. Rigatoni, one of the most popular forms of pasta in Italy, is a tube shaped pasta, larger than penne but without the angled cut on the ends. The translation for riga is lined and rigati is translated as ridged so I guess you can say rigatoni is lined with ridges.
My 11 year old daughter enjoyed this dish so much she went back for a fourth helping. Simple to prepare with ingredients we already had on hand. I encourage you to look in your refrigerator, see what's leftover, and make your own quick pasta sauce.
Pasta with Sausage and Fresh Mozzarella Recipe
- Start by heating up a pot of salted water for the pasta. Be sure to check out my pasta cooking tips. When the water is at a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
- Get all your ingredients ready. This is called mise en place. Start by finely chopping the shallot or onion, mincing the garlic, slicing the sausage and slicing the kalamata olives. Cut the fresh mozzarella into small pieces.
- Heat up a small sauce pan and when hot, add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot but not smoking, add the shallot and cook on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.
- Add the garlic, being careful not to let it burn. I will shake the pan or use a wooden spoon to prevent this from happening. I let that cook for about a minute and then added the cooked sausage and kalamata olives.
- I let this cook for a minute or two and then add the beef or brown stock. Let this reduce by about half. I also like to add a little of the water the pasta is cooking in because it has some starch in it from the pasta. It doesn't take much--maybe ¼ to ½ cup.
- This starch combined with the cheese and olive oil will help form an emulsion to thicken the sauce and help make sure that the sauce sticks to the pasta. Taste the sauce, and season with salt and pepper.
- When the pasta is perfectly cooked "to the tooth," drain it and add it to a serving bowl.
- Add the cut up mozzarella cheese and then the sauce. The heat from the pasta and the sauce should melt the fresh mozzarella.
- Serve immediately in warmed bowls.