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Hot and Sweet Sausage Ragu with Rosemary and Pecorino

Hot and Sweet Sausage Ragu with Rosemary and Pecorino


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1 ½ pounds sweet Italian sausage and hot Italian sausage, 3 links each, cut from casings

  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed of tops and end, save a handful of fronds, quartered, cored and finely chopped

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, grated or finely chopped

  • 2 small ribs celery from heart with leafy tops, finely chopped

  • Salt

  • About 3 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary, stripped and finely chopped (or a couple of generous sprigs)

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated

  • 1 round teaspoon Calabrian chili paste, or 1 small fresh red or green chili, finely chopped

  • 2 round tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste from tube or tomato paste, or 2 fat squirts

  • ¾ cup red vermouth or red wine

  • One 14-ounce can Italian cherry tomatoes or diced Italian tomatoes

  • 2 cups passata or tomato sauce

  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped (or a handful)

  • 1 pound short-cut pasta (such as paccheri, mezze rigatoni, rigatoni or penne)

  • ½ cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus more to pass at table


Bring a pot of water for pasta to a boil.

Heat a deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat, add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, add sausages and brown and crumble. If there is more than 1/3 cup or so of drippings drain some fat. Add fennel, onions, carrot and celery to pan and season with salt, rosemary and garlic, lower heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes to soften and caramelize vegetables. Add pastes, stir, add vermouth or wine and let it absorb, add cherry tomatoes and passata or sauce and parsley, then simmer 20 to 30 minutes more.

Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions for al dente, reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain, toss with sauce and finely grated cheese, using water to loosen pasta and sauce as necessary. Pass more cheese at the table.