Sunday, 28 August 2011

Rigatoni with merguez and tomato sauce

Finally!  A return to meat, and a pretty delicious return at that.  If you like spice, meat, tomatoes and easy recipes, this is the one for you.  It takes about 3% effort, but you do need an hour, and a magimix or blender.

It is half of a very lazy adaptation of a Mario Batali recipe, rather romantically named Mint love letters with spicy lamb sausage.

I would happily marry a man who sent me love letters like Mario's - delicate yet plump ravioli, stuffed with the sweetest, richest combo of pea, mint, double cream and parmesan, smothered in a spicy tomato sausage sauce.  Seriously what is not to love?  However, as you will see from the above link, Mario's recipe is also a labour of love, and one I had neither time nor ability to execute.  Instead I left out the pea ravioli part and focussed on the tomato and spicy sausage sauce.

I bought the nicest merguez sausages I could find - from London's sexiest butcher Jack O Shea, whose counter at Selfridges is amazing.  The guy who served me advised that normally these sausages have coriander but not today - which suited me fine.  I was looking for a spicy, salty, fatty lamb hit, without any further complication.

Rigatoni with merguez sausage and tomato sauce

Serves 3, would have stretched to 4 at a push

300g merguez sausage - 2 per person
2 x pots of M&S roast tomato sauce
400g rigatoni
parmesan and parsley

1.  Cut your sausages into discs about 1cm wide.
2. In a non-stick pan, fry very gently on a low heat for about 15 minutes.  Skim all the fat that comes off during this stage - there'll be loads and it isn't the prettiest.
3. Add two pots of M&S roast tomato sauce, or any basic delicious rich, sweet tomato sauce that has onions and garlic in it.
4.  Let simmer very very gently for an hour, skimming fat off every 20 minutes or so.  This isn't liposuction - you don't have to remove every last fat cell; after all, the fat is where the flavour is.  Just skim off the really overt bits every now and again.

5. Allow to cool for a few minutes so no one gets hurt.  Then put it all in the magimix and whizz till it looks like this - 30 seconds should do it.

6. In the mean time, boil your pasta - in this case rigatoni, or De Cecco's Rigatoni no. 24 to be precise.
Such a pleasurable shape to eat.  Ridged outsides to lovingly trap your sauce, beautiful curlicued edges and a pleasingly substantial length.

7.  Drain the pasta, add a tiny glug of really good olive oil, then combine with the sauce, decorate with parmesan and a bit of parsley.

This, right here, is everything I ever want in a pasta: spicy, hearty, meaty, rich sweet tomato, melting salty parmesan, a tiny bit of fresh green to wake it all up and a sauce and pasta shape that were made for each other. 

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