Looking for a quick escape after the Christmas Holidays……..You may want to wander up to the valley of locally grown, exquisitely presented, phenomenal cuisine that provides a diversification of wineries that would make France blush. Napa Valley recently posted it’s top 10 Restaurants as well as the top 10 in the North Valley and top 10 Downtown. No need to query where to eat, provided you can get a reservation, here is the link to the regions top picks. My favorites, Auberge and La Toque.
However if you would rather stay home and recoup…. I have a wonderful Pasta and Home-made Sausage recipe that will satisfy your culinary craving. Now before you stumble on the thought of making your own sausage, it’s incredibly easy and you can season it anyway you like. I use ground pork but you can easily use chicken, turkey or beef.
Here’s the recipe:
1 lb ground pork
½ t baking soda
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
2 t parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 T water
Dissolve salt, baking soda in water. Add pork and mash the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Add the garlic, thyme, sage, parmesan cheese and 1 t pepper and smear until tacky in nature about 15 seconds will do it. The smearing technique creates the snappy texture of sausage. It stretches the meats proteins to form a strong network which creates the consistency you want.
Pasta & Sausage
Recipe for Sausage
1 clove garlic
½ lb mushrooms finely diced
2 T olive oil
1 c heavy cream
1 lb dried pasta (whichever shape you prefer, farfalle, orecchiette, rotelli)
½ c white wine
¾ c parmesan cheese
2 T fresh chopped parsley
1 t fresh Thyme
½ t salt
½ t pepper
* Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan to medium high and add the sausage to the hot oil breaking it apart as it cooks. Once it is nicely brown on both sides remove the sausage and add it to the heavy cream, set aside.
* To the empty sauté pan add the mushrooms, cook 5 – 7 minutes until nicely brown. Don’t salt them while they are browning because this will draw out their water and the mushrooms won’t brown. Add the garlic, thyme, ½ t salt, ½ t pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine scraping up the brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the sauté pan and reduce until evaporated.
* Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
* Stir in the sausage and cream mixture with ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, simmer for 3 minutes until the consistency will coat the back of a spoon. If the sauce becomes too thick or if you have made it ahead and reheat it add the remainder of the pasta water. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese. Toss with the pasta and parsley.
Note: if you would like to add asparagus, brocolini or kale sauté the vegetable with the mushrooms until tender. You may also add red pepper flakes to the recipe if you want it a bit spicy. This can be done when you sauté the vegetables.
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