SP wanted something Italian for dinner tonight so he cracked open our copy of Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen in search of an idea. After much deliberation he settled on Rigatoni Woodsman-Style, which I served with some simple garlic bread:
I could tell this was going to be good while I was cooking it. I got out my big pan, the one my parents gave me for Christmas, and started sauteeing the onions and sausage. Then the mushrooms went in, followed by the tomatoes and peas. SP was sitting in the living room and every so often he'd say, "Man! That smells amazing." As I stirred together the rest of the sauce ingredients and gave it a taste I knew we had a winner. The sauce:
... is just fantastic. All the flavors from the various ingredients remained separate but also combined together to make one great bowl of pasta. And the garlic bread only added to our enjoyment of the meal since it was nice and garlicky and perfect for dipping in the sauce. SP is still talking about how tasty this meal was.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausages, preferably without fennel seeds
1 pound assorted mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and sliced thin
1 cup seeded and diced canned plum tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring until wilted, about 4 minutes. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and stir, breaking up the sausage into small pieces as you do, until the sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Stir about half the mushrooms into the sausage mixture. Add the remaining mushrooms as those in the pan wilt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms give off liquid, allow time for the juices to boil off before the mushrooms start to brown.
Pour the tomatoes into the skillet, stir in the peas, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook a minute or two. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is lightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Spoon the ricotta into the sauce and stir gently to mix.
If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring gently to coat the pasta with sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup grated cheese. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper if necessary.