Monday, September 27, 2010

Penne Pasta with Spicy Sausage Ragu – If You're Not Cheating, You're Not Trying

When it comes to this penne pasta with spicy sausage ragu recipe, we aren't just cheating a little, were cheating all over the place. Thanks to two simple shortcuts, this recipe is nothing more than a basic "brown and simmer." Really, that's it – brown and simmer. Oh, you do have to boil some penne pasta, but I think you can find a way to work that into your busy schedule.

First of all, we're using ready-made marina sauce. Ideally, this is from a batch of homemade you whipped up after watching this video, but if not, I used a jar of Barill
a, and you are free to do the same, guilt-free. Using a prepared sauce excuses you from the kind of mincing and dicing that can often turn a meal like this into a call to the local pizzeria.
The second, and most ingenious cheat is using spicy Italian sausage instead of plain old ground meat. Any decent brand should be packed with an array of spices, herbs, and garlic that traditionally accompanies the pork into the casing. Think about it; if you like the flavor of the Italian sausage you usually buy, then I'm thinking you'd like the flavor of this ragu.
I usually start this in a dry, cold saucepan, and cook over medium heat until it's ready for the wet ingredients. If your sausage seems particularly lean, you can toss in a glug of olive oil to get things going. Conversely, if there seems to be lots of grease in the pan, simply drain some off before continuing the sauce.

Of course, with all the options for different kinds of sauces and types of sausage, it goes without saying that you can embellish this a hundred different ways, and I hope you do. Who says cheaters never win? Enjoy!




Penne Pasta with Spicy Sausage Ragu Ingredients:
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley, optional
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups (1 jar) marinara sauce
1 cup water (rinse the jar)
1/4 cup cream
14.5 oz dry penne pasta
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


View the complete recipe

82 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else think this recipe was gonna use RagĂș (the ready-made sauce)?

saltyseattle said...

Good god, man- your videos have me in stitches every time.

Chef John said...

Thanks my friend! :-)

Rita said...

you're just too funny. thanks for always making my day.

blogagog said...

Cream in the sauce? Intriguing.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, you always make everything look so easy!! And fun to watch!! Thanks again! :)

Anonymous said...

Why white wine and not red(you were pretty emphatic about that)? And don't tell me that it has something to do with a reaction with the cream, because I wouldn't add cream to a tomato based pasta sauce for all the money in China(or Italy! We can figure out the international economic implications of that later).

Anonymous said...

Excuse my ignorance - could someone explain why to cook it for 1 hour? Why not just until the meat is done? Does it increase the flavour? Happy cooking :)

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

What could I use instead of the white wine which would have no alcohol in it?

Thanks!

Chef John said...

the simmering time is to give the flavors from the sausage a chance to melt into the sauce. and to make the meat soft and tender.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John,

This is unrelated to this post, but I thought you might be interested. This video uses the same song that you do in the opening to your videos:

http://www.kaffeologie.com/shop

I didn't know if you owned it or something. Maybe you could sue them and get some cash and spend it on a manicure so that your videos are even nicer.

Kisses,

Jack

Anonymous said...

Would chicken stock work instead of the dry white wine?

Thanks! :-)

Chef John said...

Non-wine peeps... use a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and a 1/2 tsp of sugar instead of wine.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, this may be a dumb question but what does the "ragu" mean when referring to the sauce? And another dumb question, can this be used as a spaghetti sauce? And last but not least did you ever post a lasagna recipe video? And if not, could you? Thank you for all your work! Love your site and videos!

Chef John said...

ragu is just a generic word for an Italian meat sauce. You can use it on any pasta you want! (but you knew that right? ;-)

I haven't done a lasagna yet.

BradyinBoston said...

Tried it tonight and loved it! the best part aside from it being effortless is that I had all the ingredients on hand. Chef John, people like you, and especially you are the reason I love to cook. All cookbooks be damned!

Anonymous said...

Am feeling a little smug right now because I do have your homemade marinara sauce ready to use in this recipe. It is in lovely frozen portions... right next to the lovely frozen portions of 12 hour chicken stock. Life is good, baby.

jackmin said...

Chef John - I made this last night and it was delicious! I also made your parmesan crisps to go along with the pasta. Very, very good! Love your videos and your humor! Keep up the good work and thank you!

Brian said...

thanks a bunch for this recipe!
:)

Anonymous said...

About how many servings will this recipe give?
I want to make it for my family of four (three adults, one teen).

Ramona W. said...

Chef John this was absolutley amazing! I went to Eataly (Italian Market in NYC) last night got everything except penne, I used fresh tagliatelle instead. I have left quite a few comments on your blog and as always....it was OH SO GOOD! Everyone, please give this a try!

Chef John said...

Glad you enjoyed it!!

Anonymous said...

Great recipes!

Greetings from Germany.

(But just three recipes from Germany are not many much;-))

Ge said...

Dear Chef John, is there a substitute for White wine in this recipe?

Chef John said...

Check wine comments, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef - It's been a while since I made one of you dishes and after making this one I asked myself, "Why did I wait this long again?"

This dish was easy as it was magnificent!

Thank you, Chef John! You make the world a better place. :-)

Daniel

doggie918 said...

dude~ when u took a forkful of that deliciousness i drooled while leaning forward. The science teacher part is funny too, the whole video is :D

Anonymous said...

please make a lasagna video real soon! :)

p.s. i love all your vids!!

Kyung Mi said...

This recipe came out really good... of course. It's my favorite lazy weekend go-to recipe. Thanks Chef John!!

Anonymous said...

I made this tonight as the main course for the in-laws, it was pretty amazing. Everybody loved it and commented on what a great cook I was.

Haha, thanks for making me look good. :)

KiliMats said...

THanks for the delicious recipe, I was wondering if you leave the lid closed or open during the 1 hour simmer

Ash88 said...

Chef John I am pretty sure you answered this question, But can I use water instead of wine?

Chef John said...

of course! :-)

Gracie said...

Chef John,
Your website and recipes are by far my favorite!! I just made this Penne pasta in Vodka sauce. AMAZING!!! I suddenly felt like a chef after making this recipe of yours.

Thanks for another wonderful recipe!!

Any chance you will make more dishes with scallops with different sauces to go with it??

Ash88 said...

I agree with Gracie I have a seafood Alfredo dish that I make that uses crab meat shrimp and scallops and it is great however I was wondering if you can put your own twist on it. I also make this Spicy sausage ragu penne pasta dish and within hours it was gone!! ALL GONE!! I will be making this again for a surprise birthday party!
My husband said Thanks for posting this recipe since it helped me get out of my comfort zone!

Hilda said...

is there a check box to just print the receipe? can't seem to find it. Thanks.

Chef John said...

Sorry, blogspot doesn't have that feature, and I don't write out the recipes, only the ings.

Tristan said...

Thanks Chef John!
This was delicious, I made a big batch it was easy and cost very little money or effort. The flavours were great, I didn't even use salt!

Here is a photo of how it turned out
http://image.bayimg.com/madmbaadm.jpg

Thanks again,
Tristan

ashley said...

thank you, thank you, I have made this recipe 3 times now and it is awesome. Last time I had my 16 yr old daughter make it, so she will be half way prepared for cooking in college, if she gets this simple recipe under her belt. this tastes as good as any italian restaurant!

ashley said...

Thank you, thank you, I've made this 3 times now and it tastes awesome, as good as any italian restaurant. Also had my 16 yr old daughter make it last time. I figure is she can master this simple recipe, she will have a good start in cooking while in college!

Chef John said...

You, my friend, are a great mother. :-) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Heey Chef John:) umm is there any substitute for whine, at all? and the answer can't be no:) Thanks

Chef John said...

There really isn't! Just leave it out.

sarah said...

Hi chef John,

Ive been a long time watcher (Student of yours I would say more likely haha!) But never commented. I've cooked so many of your recipes and loved them all! (My husbands favorite dish is the brown sugar buttermilk meatloaf believe it or not.) Anyway, I am a red wine drinker not a white wine drinker BUT I follow your recipes religiously as to not mess them up. I looked through all the comments and didn't see if you recommended a brand or type of white wine? Since not all wines taste the same =P Thank you so much and I cannot wait to make this.

~ Sarah F.

Chef John said...

Any white table wine will work! Chard, Sauvignon blank, etc. Thanks!

chefchipdes said...

I don't pretend to be an expert on Italian cuisine. It's always been my understanding that milk (or in this case, cream) also acts as a tenderizer for the meat. I believe it also helps neutralize the acidity of the sauce, no? I do find that fresh pork sausages need a long cooking time to tenderize the meat.

I like this dish--it will be on my family's dinner table next week! Thank you!

dave said...

Covered or uncovered on the 1 hour simmer?

Chef John said...

Uncovered. Enjoy!

john said...

Can you expand on covered versus uncovered for simmering--what are advantages/disadvantages of either covering or uncovering--thanx

Gary C said...

Nice job, Chef :o) It's quick, easy, tasty recipes like this that working people need in their repertoire. Made it with hot Italian sausage, maybe too hot. Next time I'll use mild and add some chili flakes or cayenne. Thank-you for your blog!

Rob said...

Hi Chef John,

The printed recipe calls for a cup of water, but you don't mention it in the video. Is that just a precautionary measure in case the sauce becomes too thick when simmering?

Chef John said...

As you'll see in the ingredients, the water is to rinse the jar of tomato sauce out. And yes, to keep from being too thick.

Anonymous said...

Chef John
I can't tell you how much I enjoy your videos. I did this exactly as played and written (even used white wine). Drove my hubby crazy that I simmered as you said - he took one mouth-full and jumped up and gave us (that's U & me) a round of applause! Awesome - keep up the EXCELLENT videos!
Jan

Chef John said...

Thanks!!

Indra said...

Hi there! Is heavy cream same as thickened cream?
http://www.bullafoodservice.com.au/chilled-range/cream-products/thickened-cream/thickened-cream-300ml.html
I've all the ingredients and i don't wanna screw it up with the wrong cream :/ Hope to hear from you soon!

Chef John said...

Never seen that product before, but should work.

lovnber2008 said...

My son had a severe dairy allergy, does the heavy cream have to be in there?

lovnber2008 said...

My son had a severe dairy allergy, does heavy cream have to be in there?

lovnber2008 said...

My son had a severe dairy allergy, does the heavy cream have to be in there?

Chef John said...

no!

Anonymous said...

Can I make this and then bake it to have a baked ziti dish?

Chef John said...

Yes!!

Anonymous said...

chef john i found your site a couple months ago. since then i feel like i am living that movie where the woman is trying to complete julia childs recipes. my husband is ecstatic. he will love this one. thanks for the hard work and humor!!!!!!!!

Denis said...

I am sorry. I can only give this recipe a 5. Yep! Only a 5!!!

Ok so I can only give it a 5 out of 5!
I also took a couple of cans of mushrooms, drained the mushroom juice into the marinara jar and used that to rince it out, and added both the mushrooms and the rince/mushroom juice/water to the pot at that time, and got to enjoy this dish.

This was wonderful! It is nowon my date dinner list.

Denis said...

Note to Indra and anyone else who may be wondering. Heavy cream according to Wiki is a cream with a high milk fat content of 36% or more. I used whipping cream of 30-36% (mine was 33%) and it was fine.

Me.Eat.Food said...

I've always wondered how the meat in a good Ragu get so tender...now I know! I made this last night for some hearty boys - and they loved it! Delicious and EASY meal...cheap too!

cookinmom said...

Hey, no video :0(

Anonymous said...

This technique is seriously good.

I can't believe I've been throwing separately cooked meat and cold pasta sauce from the bottle into a pot with pasta all of these years.

Simmering the meat and sauce on low for at least an hour takes some getting used to (patience, for me at least) but the flavor is amazing compared to what I'm used to.

Thanks!

Andrew

Chad said...

Chef John,

I love this recipe as I do with all of your recipes! This is such a flavorful dish. Thank you.

cookinmom said...

At our table tonight, it was "Let's give Chef John a "Round of Applause"!!!

tx pap said...

should we skim the fat off the top as it's simmering?

otherwise great quick recipe.

on a side note, i love watching your vlog :)) thank you for making life just a little more interesting :))

Chef John said...

I usually do! Thanks!

mellybooboo said...

what sausage brand do you use???

Chef John said...

It was from a butcher's case, not a brand. Anything will work!

Cheryl said...

This was my daughters first attempt at following a recipe. Because of your comfortable way of teaching she has now caught the cooking bug. She did an amazing job making this and has since tried 3 other recipes. Tomorrow she will make her 5th. I am thinking I will have to stop counting soon. She just turned 12. You are an amazing teacher

Chef John said...

Thanks for sharing! So cool!

Michele Cryan said...

did you forget to mentino adding salt or are the sausages and jarred sauce suppose to cover that?

Chef John said...

I don't remember, but we always check for salt and seasoning at the end, plus we always really salt the water well for the pasta. Enjoy!

Todd Nelson said...

Just made this tonight, It was soooo good!! Thanks so much for giving us the knowledge to make great dishes like this.

Silly Ninja said...

Chef John,

I've made variations of this recipe dozens of times because it's easy and incredibly delicious. That said, I do have a question for you about it. Is there a benefit to buying/using hot italian sausage in the casings versus going with ground hot italian sausage. Do the spices preserve better inside the casings or something? I've always mindlessly followed your instructions because you're like the Jesus of cooking, but I'm curious to know if there's really a benefit in this case...

Thanks Chef! Keep it real.

Chef John said...

It doesn't matter! Thanks!

Gian D said...

Made this with milk and spaghetti and it turned out great. Also didn't have parsley and didn't have to add salt or pepper at the end. I bought a Trader Joe's sauvignon blanc for about five dollars and drank some of it with the meal too. I'm glad I tried this recipe. Thanks Chef!