Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cayenne Sausage and Pepper Penne

This was a meal that really had John going crazy. It is very spicy, and he couldn't stop raving about how much he loved it. If your family isn't quite as into the burn, you'll want to cut back on the cayenne. But if you're brave, go for it!  The recipe inspiration came from Our McWonderful World, via Tasty Kitchen.

The Ingredients:
  • 1 lb italian sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup of white wine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 28 oz of diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz of pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 Tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp of basil
The Steps:
  1. Dice red and green bell peppers, 3 cloves of garlic, and yellow onion onion and set aside. 
  2. Boil a pot of water and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  3. Remove sausage from casings and sauté on medium high heat until brown. Remove cooked sausage from pan and set aside in a separate bowl.
  4. If there is fat leftover in the pan, drain all but about 1 tsp. 
  5. Add olive oil to the pan and add the bell peppers, onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent. 
  6. Pour the wine in with the vegetables and garlic, scraping up the browned bits. 
  7. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until wine amount is reduced to about half. 
  8. Add 28oz of diced tomatoes (undrained) to pan, along with 1 tsp of basil, salt & pepper, and 3 tsp of cayenne. 
  9. Cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat until flavors combine. 
  10. To thicken the sauce, remove a ladleful of liquid into a small bowl, add 1Tbsp of cornstarch, and mix until creamy. Add back to sauce, stirring throughout. If the sauce is still too runny, you can repeat this process with another tablespoon of cornstarch and ladleful of sauce. (Honestly, you can probably skip this step altogether. I think it works just fine as a thin sauce.)
The Photos: 

The ingredients, all lined up. You'll see that I used whole tomatoes instead of diced. I was out of diced, so I just diced these ones by hand. You'll see the mess I created a bit futher down in the post.

I was able to use another package of the fan-freaking-tastic sausage that my father in law and his brothers made. This was the flavor they call "Country". I wish you all were so lucky to have you freezer stocked with this stuff - it's amazing! They produce it with very little fat, so you will notice that I didn't have to do any draining of the meat as it cooked. Awesome.

I love keeping my pasta in these clear containers. It looks so pretty in my pantry, and it's easier to see at a glance what kinds I have "in stock". 

I've been trying to use up all of the items that I've had in my pantry for a while and haven't used, and that included these whole tomatoes. (I want to get my pantry as slim as possible so it is easier to keep organized.) As you'll see in a bit, I hand-chopped these whole tomatoes into diced pieces. 

This is one of my favorite wines! Delicious to cook with, and of course, drink!

Start by boiling some water for the pasta.

Chop the veggies, onion, and garlic and set aside.

Remove the sausage from its casing and break up into the pan, sautéing until brown. 


Move sausage to a separate bowl.

At this point, if you have fat leftover from the sausage, drain all but 1 tsp. (The meat I used is very low in fat, so I got to skip that step.)

Add some olive oil to the pan.

And then add your chopped veggies and garlic.

About this time, my water was boiling away.

Add a pinch of salt, then the pasta.

Continue cooking the veggies until they look about like this (the onions will be translucent).

Measure out about 3/4 cup of white wine.

Pour the wine in with the veggies and use a spatula or spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the side and bottom of the pan.

Continue to cook until the wine is reduced by about half.

As I mentioned earlier, I used a can of whole tomatoes instead of diced. I chopped them up myself with a knife, but stupidly forgot to use a cutting board with a place to catch the extra liquid. I ended up with quite a bit of tomato juice on my counter. Oops! The tomatoes were good, though. :)

Add the tomatoes and their juice to the pan.

Add salt, pepper, and 3 tsp of cayenne to the mixture and mix well.

At about this time, the pasta should be ready. 

Add the sausage back into the pan and stir.

If you want to thicken the sauce, remove a ladleful from the pot into a bowl and add a Tablespoon of cornstarch. 

Stir well to combine.

Add the thickened sauce back to the pan. You can repeat this a couple times until it's the consistency you want.

I kept ours fairly thin. Honestly, next time I think I'll skip the cornstarch step altogether.

Ooh baby, I can feel the cayenne burning by nostrils just looking at these pictures again!  

Mix with the pasta, add a side of garlic bread, and enjoy!

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