Sausage and Leek Ragu

There’s something about this time of year. The burgeoning darkness of winter creeping into the evenings making them ever shorter encourages us to yearn for both simplicity and comfort. Midweek suppers become the bane of our lives, especially when trying to feed a group or a family. We crave for something easy to cook and yet a dish that will yield copious amounts of flavour and contentment. Inspired by a meal that I had in Washington DC earlier on in the year I’ve tweaked and balanced this recipe to one that requires minimal ingredients, many of which you’ll no doubt have in your own fridge or pantry. As always with Italian food the uncomplicatedness of the dish is beguiled by the quality of the ingredients used and as such although humble, be prepared to use the best possible elements available. In essence this requires just sausages and leeks but in total warrants just five more ingredients; butter, fennel seeds (if using), frozen peas, chicken stock, and pasta.

Leeks

Try to source good quality sausages here with a relatively high pork content. Even many of the supermarkets are now stocking sausages with interesting flavours such as smoked garlic and basil, or even chilli sausages for a bit of mild heat which would also work well in this dish. Do of course make sure to seek out local artisan sausages too and with your local butcher to see what they have available. In terms of pasta, though not essential campanelle (or gigli) is good with this dish but fusilli or farfalle would be a suitable substitute.

Campanelle pasta (bottom right) is classic but use another shape such as fusilli or farfalle

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 good quality pork sausages (approx. 600g)
  • 2-3 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced thinly
  • 2 x 15g (30g total) knobs of butter
  • 1tsp. fennel seeds
  • Handful of frozen peas (about 1 cup)
  • 500ml of chicken stock (homemade or from a cube/stockpot)
  • 500g campanelle/gigli pasta or any other suitable shape
  • Parmesan to serve

Method

  1. Remove the skins from the sausages by slitting down the middle of the sausage with a sharp knife and taking off the casing. Roughly cut the sausages into relatively small pieces.
  2. Put a heavy based frying pan onto a high heat and add just a dash of olive oil. Fry the pieces of sausage for 5-10 minutes until cooked through using a potato masher to break up the pieces of sausage into much smaller pieces. When slightly crispy, tip the sausage meat into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the same frying pan back on the heat and add one 15g knob of butter. Once melted, add the leeks and the fennel seeds. Reduce the heat to a medium low and sauté the leeks for 10 minutes.
  4. While the leeks are cooking place 250ml of the chicken stock into a small saucepan. Place on a high heat and boil until the stock is reduced to a few tablespoons. Add the other 15g knob of butter and set aside.
  5. Bring a large heavy based pot of heavy based pot of water to the boil and cook your pasta by packet instructions or until al dente.
  6. When the leeks are done, return the sausage meat to the pan, add the peas and the remaining 250ml of chicken stock. Cook over a high heat for a few minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened and the peas tender. Add the reduced stock and butter and stir through.
  7. When the pasta is cooked, strain, reserving a cup full of pasta water. Return the cooked pasta to its pot and add the sausage and leek ragù, stir through, loosening if needed with a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (bearing in mind the stock will already be quite salty)
  8. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan
Sausage and Leek Ragu

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