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Though I know I run the risk of having to change the name of this blog, I’m going to post another recipe that I made last night – Puttanesca

My version of Puttanesca is pretty standard I think, but this time it had a real twist – perfect for people who really like spicy food. The secret? Habanero sausage! Warning – this is not for the faint of heart! For a more traditional puttanesca use regular sausage and add a tsp or so of red chili flakes

1 lb Habanero sausage – or other sausage – I used Jimmy Dean brand
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 tsp anchovy paste or a couple whole anchovies
3 cloves garlic – minced, shredded or crushed. I have a roller thing that minces – works well
1 14 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can of tomato sauce
1 tsp Oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary
3 TBSP capers in juice! or at least add some juice too – i like the salt and sourness of the brine
1/4 C Kalamata Olives – with juice!
1 tsp red chili flakes (Optional – this will be pretty hot already!)
Parmesan cheese as a topping

1 lb Penne or Rigatoni

Optional things I have put in before
1-2 TBSP butter – adds richness if the sauce is too sour
2 TBSP brown sugar – adds sweetness and depth if the sauce is too hot or bland
1-2 TBSP red wine – adds depth, sourness if the sauce needs some zing, can add sweetness too depending on the wine. Also can thin the sauce if it’s too thick
1-2 Bay leaves – I can never tell the difference, but it adds some pretentiousness
1/2 C Onion – minced – sometimes I’ll put onion in, but not usually. This dish already has a ton of flavor. If you are going to add onions, add them with the garlic and saute them a bit.
Parmesan cheese

Start cooking the Rigatoni or Penne, or whatever pasta you want per the instructions on the package.
Brown the sausage. I tend to think that sausage these days is made with less fat than traditional sausage, so I usually add 1-2 TBSP olive oil to help it cook.
Without draining I add the minced garlic and the anchovies. Saute for a min or two, but don’t let the garlic burn – med heat
Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Add the herbs and pepper
Simmer for 10 min or so.
Finish up the pasta and whatever else you are cooking, e.g. bread, salad
Add the olives and capers.
Simmer for another 10 min or so and taste
Add optional ingredients to suit your taste.

Serve pasta – Let people put on their own sauce.

I usually let people put their own sauce on because pasta can be a very personal thing.

We usually top with shredded Parmesan.

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4 comments to Puttanesca

  • klypos

    Do without the garlic, use shallots – and forget the anchovies, use Worcester sauce.

    Go for a walk to Neal’s Yard and find some real sausages.

    You’ve got a sauce for pasta, it is edible, it is tasty, but it is not Puttanesca unless you’re a hairy biker. One teaspoon of oregano – you must be English!

    Steam off the peppers in the micro to mush before you put them in.

    Learn enough Italian to soften the onions with the herbs, and brown some of the tomatoes a bit before you fling in the rest of the stuff. Three spoons of oregano and one of basil.

    I’d rather eat Lloyd Grossman’s than yours …

  • I’d really like to see your recipe for Puttanesca, but in lieu of that, I’ll attempt to make it with your ingredients and repost. I’ve never heard of using Worchestershire sauce in Puttanesca, so that will be different.

    I’ll try the browning the tomatoes part too. My guess is that you’re using Roma tomatoes and a steel skillet with a bit of olive oil or butter.

    Of course, you’re right about the sausages. I should go to my local butcher and get some, but the bastards close at 5pm, and I have a 45 min drive home. We do have a couple farmers markets and there’s sometimes meat there. In fact there’s one this afternoon, so I’ll stop by and see if I can’t find some real sausages there.

    I’ve always said that shallots are pretentious, but given your other ideas, I’ll give the all your recommendations a try and see what happens.


  • klypos

    Since you asked – a quick version using a jar of “sugocasa”. Shallots are used because they add a subtler taste than garlic. Saint Delia will always use lemon juice when she uses garlic, lime juice when she uses shallots, because the subtlety is complimentary – I rest my case.

    Put two tablespoons of Worcester sauce in a wineglass. Add three or four tablespoons of dried oregano and a teaspoon of dried basil. cover with clingfilm and poke a small hole to act as a vent. Microwave for a minute on full power. Leave it in the microwave and do the next bit.

    Use a large saucepan – everything ends up in it – and use rapeseed (canola) oil for most of the actual frying, because you need a higher temperature than butter or olive oil when you get to the tomato frying, and it is the cheap healthy option. Corn oil (like Mazola) is actually more Italian.

    Put the pan on the heat, add a couple of spoons of oil and two teaspoons of chili powder, cook to (just) brown, set aside. Chop three shallots finely (slices not dices), add to the mess in the pan, stir and heat gently to clarify. Stop heating.
    Your oil is flavoured now – add three more spoons of oil, mix, and scrape the bits of shallot up the side of the pan onto a saucer.

    Now we cook the sausages in the oil – add another teaspoonful of chili powder and about half a pound of good quality chipolatas, get it up to bubbling on a very gentle heat, put the lid on and neglect for 10 min while preparing the peppers. It is like using a Dutch oven – and most Italian homes don’t have ovens, do almost everything happens on the hob.

    Two or three capsicums / bell peppers, colours of your choice. Discard the seed choke and cut to small dice, reserve one third on the saucer with the
    shallots. Put the other two thirds in a covered dish, take out that glass and microwave for about 8 min.

    Back to the sausages – probably browned nicely on one side, more work needed. Take them off the heat, push them to one side, and mix a generous teaspoon of “made English /Dijon mustard” .into the fat. Roll the sausages around in the mix, up the heat and flash brown them to look “Ken Hom”, which translates to “Golden Brown”.in our house.

    Take the sausages out and put them on a plate, leaving as much of the gunge behind as possible.

    Finely slice a couple of shallots, put them in the gunge. Add the contents of the glass, stir all together in the bottom of the pan. If you cannot distinguish globules of free oil, add a tablespoon of oil. Heat gently to clarify the shallots. Add a splash of sugocasa, brown gently. Throw in the shallots and pepper from the saucer. Give it a stir to mix, “finger taste” – if you want it hotter, add a teaspoon of powdered chilli.
    Now push all the gunge to one side in the pan, see how much oil you have, add a little more if you don’t see oil, add a splash more sugocasa and brown it. Take it off the heat and throw in those mushed peppers from the microwave. Mix, push it all into the corner of the pan so you can add more oil and sugocasa to brown. Keep on with pushing the mix to one side off the heat, adding a little oil, and browning the sugocasa over the heat, until you are working in a tiny corner of the pan. Take the pan off the heat, add the sausages (chopped) and the remaining sugocasa until the mix becomes tinged with red.

    Obviously, it tastes better when you use a fresh tomato puree, but if you want the best tasting canned sub you eant to buy some canned tomatillos. The key is in the browned fried tomato taste – just boiled, these sauces lack Umami.

  • klypos

    Er – corrections – that should be three or four TEAspoons of dried oregano, and maybe another tablespoon of Worcester sauce (3 total). And if you want to sell it to people, there is a secret ingredient – send me an email and I’ll tell you.

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