Friday, January 28, 2011

Rigatoni alla Pastora (Shepherd style)

Not mine but too good not to record. Transcribed from Lidia Bastianich's PBS-TV broadcast January, 2011. Simple, fast, and delicious. The sausage brings most of the flavor. Fresh herbs pick up the rest.
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, removed from casing, and crumbled
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil [Lidia used 1/2 c]
1/2 t crushed red pepper (peperoncino) Omit with hot sausage
1 lb rigatoni
1/2 t kosher salt
2 c whole-milk ricotta
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c loosely-packed fresh basil leaves torn into shreds (or 1/2 c parsley and cilantro, mixed)
Sauce: Heat a heavy large saucepan over medium-high, add the oil and then the peperoncino for a few seconds. Add the crumbled sausage, and cook well with occasional turning, for about 10 minutes until well-browned and crispy. Variation: Add 1/2 c sliced sweet red pepper and 1 c sliced mushrooms to the sausage as it is cooking.
Pasta: As the sausage is browning, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook until just tender, about 11 minutes. Stir about 1/2 c of the pasta water into the cooked sausage to form a sauce. Transfer pasta with a slotted spoon to the sauce and continue cooking. Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan, and toss well, adding more pasta water as needed. Heat through. Scatter the herbs on top, drizzle on a bit more oil, and heap into warm bowls.

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