Rep Note:
Coins & Cream (?)
28 May 2018

¶ Ever since it came out, in 1993, my go-to source for pasta recipes has been Giuliano Hazan’s Dorling-Kindersley The Classic Pasta Cookbook.  It has been years since I tried anybody else’s Bolognese sauce. And Hazan’s is the book that I open when I want to indulge Kathleen with puttanesca sauce. Every now and then, I try something new, but, aside from the forementioned dishes and spaghetti alla carbonara, nothing has stuck, until, starting about a year ago, something called Conchiglie alla salsiccia e panna. Shells with sausage and cream. I’ve made it several times, but only this evening did I get it right. By which I mean: made it mine.

My principle difficulty with Hazan’s method was with the sausage. Following his recipe, I would boil a sausage for a few minutes, let it cool, and slice it into thin rounds, or coins. Except that the sausage wouldn’t cooperate. The still-uncooked sausage meat spilled out every whichway. Browning this mess was very difficult.

The trouble might have been that I was starting with frozen sausage. I buy three or four at a time when I shop at Agata & Valentina — I like the fennel sausage especially — and, when I get home, I wrap each sausage individually and stick it in the freezer.

This evening, I decided to remove the sausage skin — I scored the frozen sausage with a small knife and, under hot water, peeled the skin right off, in one piece — and then to cut it into coins. I’m still strong enough to do this, and I find frozen meat much easier to cut into thin slices. Now I put the coins in a skillet, with a bit of water. The water gently poached (and thawed) the sausage, and as it evaporated I added the butter that Hazan calls for. Using tongs, I turned over the coins until they were all nicely browned.

Then I added some wine. Hazan doesn’t call for it, but when did wine ever hurt? Besides, I like to make this sauce with cherry tomatoes, not canned Romas, so I need extra liquid. I tossed in the tomatoes, which I’d also cut into coins — easy to do, if you can find the long, dirigible-shaped variety — along with the seasonings, rosemary, salt, and pepper. When all of this was more less cooked, I added some more wine, and when the wine evaporated I poured in the cream. By the time the cream was the color of rust, the sausage had seasoned the entire sauce. 

“Sausage and cream” is probably a better name for this simple, everyday dish.

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