I've been anticipating this day from the beginning of our challenge.
It started with my observation that every time pork sausage is listed as an ingredient, Marcella goes out of her way to dictate that it contain no herbs or spices beyond a judicious amount of salt and pepper. Every recipe. Then in his book "Ratio" Michael Ruhlman quotes Marcella's recipe for pork sausage - minus the spices.
I began paying attention to the sweet Italian pork sausages available at all my usual sources. Not one of them was made her way. Not one was free of fennel, oregano, garlic or some other assertive ingredient. This touched off a hunt of epic proportions. Even Marcella suggested that I might be getting a little carried away. But, I was determined to find them.
Eventually an angel by the name of Diane Urzi, the owner of Urzi's Italian Market agreed that if I would order at least 25 pounds, she would follow Marcella's recipe exactly. She even agreed to make it her first batch of the day to ensure that no residual spices were still in the equipment.
And now, I finally get to report on a dish using these wonderful sausages. The sauce had only two main ingredients - sweet red and yellow bell peppers and sweet pork sausage. The onion, tomato, salt, pepper, butter and cheese were there to add depth.
The onions are softened in olive oil. The sausages are cut into 1/2 pieces and browned very briefly in the oil. Then the peeled and cut peppers are added, hanging out in the pan for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the tomatoes. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Marcella's pasta of choice is fresh homemade pappardella of both egg and spinach variety. The drained pasta is dumped into your serving bowl. Then the sauce is dumped over it. Toss lightly, add butter, toss again. Add parmigiano-reggiano, toss again. Serve immediately.
The sausage was sweet and rich. And without the heavy spices, it didn't overshadow the flavor of the glorious peppers.We enjoyed it with a bold bottle of 2006 Zinfusion from Castoro, one of our favorite wineries in Paso Robles.