Pasta coated in a rich, creamy sauce with Parmesan cheese and nicely browned and crusted Italian sausage equals comfort food in a bowl. This meal is irresistible and perfect for enjoying by the fire on a cold autumn night.
I used cavatappi, but you could also use penne, fusilli, or orecchiette (which is the one I really wanted to use but couldn’t find.)
I used a pound of bulk mild Italian sausage, but you could use hot Italian sausage instead. For cooking the sausage I used a method I learned from Cook’s Illustrated. Ordinarily if you sauté Italian sausage and break it apart as it cooks, by the time you develop some nice browning on it, the sausage becomes a little dry and chewy.
But if you sprinkle some baking soda on it, let it sit for a few minutes, then cook it in a big patty so you can get a nice sear on each side without overcooking it, it stays fabulously tender. Take it out of the pan while still undercooked, chop it into bite-sized pieces and let it finish cooking in the cream sauce. Delicious!
- 1 pound sweet or mild Italian sausage
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 small sweet or yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 12 ounces pasta cooked until al dente, reserve ½ cup cooking liquid
- Sprinkle both sides of sausage with baking soda and shape into a large hamburger patty about ½ to ¾-inch thick. Let sit 10 minutes.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Place sausage on a plate or cutting board and cut into ¼-inch pieces. Transfer sausage to a bowl and add cream. Set aside.
- If there is more than 1½ tablespoons of grease in skillet, discard excess. Add onion to skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
- Add wine and cook until reduced in half.
- Add sausage/cream mixture and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add nutmeg, parsley, and Parmesan. Remove from heat and stir until cheese is melted. If sauce is too thick, add some reserved cooking liquid.
- Toss sauce with pasta and serve.