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Recipe: Fusili with Sausage, Fennel & Red Wine

From At Home in Provence by Patricia Wells. I made this a week ago.


1 pound (500 g) bulk sausage meat, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups (50 cl) dry red wine, such as Chianti
2 eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup (1 ounce, 30g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt
1 pound (500 g) dried Italian pasta, such as fusil or penne
About 1 cup (25cl) pasta cooking water


1. In a skillet large enough to hold the pasta later on, brown the meat with no additional fat over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. With the end of a spatula, continue to break up the sausage pieces into fine bits of meat. Add the fennel seeds and tomato paste, toss to blend, and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Slowly add the wine, pouring it all over the surface of the pan. Adjust the heat to bring the liquid to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until most of the wine – and alcohol – have cooked off, about 15 minutes from the time the liquid comes to a simmer. Taste for seasoning.

2. Place the eggs in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in the cheese and a generous grinding of pepper. Set aside.

3. In a large pot, bring 6 quarts (6 l) of water to a roiling boil. When the water boils, add 3 tablespoons of salt and the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite, 9 to 11 minutes. Carefully drain the pasta, leaving a few drops of water clinging to the pasta to that the sauce will adhere. Reserve 1 cup (25 cl) of cooking water.

4. Add the pasta to the skillet with the sausage meat and use two forks to toss thoroughly, evenly coating the pasta with the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and, working quickly with two forks, stir in the egg mixture. Continue to toss until each pieces of pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. (The pasta should not be dry; if it is add the pasta water, tablespoon by tablespoon, tossing after each addition, to create a smooth, clinging sauce.) Serve immediately in warmed shallow soup bowls. Pass the pepper mill.

Four to six servings


The recipe worked well. I opted for penne over fusili. I was a bit dubious about using raw eggs, but I would do so again. I likely doubled the amount of tomato paste. What am I going to do with half a small can? I thought the instructions about the water and the pasta were a bit precious, but then again I didn’t need to add any more water. Most of the ingredients were at hand – only had to remember to pick up some sausage meat and fennel seeds the day before I made the dish.

Recommended for a cold evening meal – and we have plenty of cold evenings up here in Canada.

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