We are so lucky to have this amazing Italian deli and food shop in town, Roma Imports. They make their own sauces, sausages, desserts, and carry salume and pasta like that reginette in the photo that we otherwise just would not find here.
We are in love with their Count Dracula sausage, and it is my favorite to use when making what my Italian-American friends call “gravy” (and what the rest of us call pasta sauce.) It is a beautiful thing, bursting with juicy porky goodness, seasoned with lots of hot pepper and garlic. YUM!
Since we don’t do the whole primo/secondo thing at our house, we like to slice the sausage in the sauce after it’s cooked. It serves more that way, I think. But hey, I’m a cheap ass. Ask my husband.
Count Dracula's Pasta Dinner
Spicy sausage tomato sauce served with reginette noodles, whose wavy edges really hold the sauce.
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 medium white onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp. Penzey's Tuscan Sunset seasoning (or plain old Italian seasoning, or1 1/2 tsp each dried: marjoram, basil, oregano, and 1 tsp rosemary)
1 Tsp. Fennel seeds
1/3 bottle soft red wine (TJ's 3-buck-chuck Syrah or Merlot, for example)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds long pasta (spaghetti, reginette, linguini, whatever floats your boat)
Preheat the oven to 350*. Get out your big enameled dutch oven, or your crock pot. Open the canned whole tomatoes, dump them in and smoosh them with your clean hands (or your potato masher if you're a big wimp). Dump in the other tomatoes and sauce, and add the garlic and herbs. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium. Add the olive oil and the veggies and sauté until they begin to soften. Add them to the sauce. Now turn up the heat to medium high and brown the sausages on all sides. When they are on their last side, pour the wine over them and cook it down for just a couple minutes while you deglaze the bottom of the pan. Toss all that in to the sauce. Stir. Cover and put in the oven (or the crock pot on high) for two and half to three hours. Go past that at your own risk (the tomato starts to taste burn-y) or else have that oven at 300* from the get-go and cross your fingers.
About half an hour before you're ready to have dinner, put on the pasta pot and follow the package directions to cook the noodles of your choice. While the water is heating, take the dutch oven out of the oven and remove the sausages to a plate to cool a few minutes. While they cool, take your stick blender or your potato masher and puree the sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust any seasoning (need more garlic? more herbs? more hot pepper? Possibly salt?) Once they're cool enough to handle, slice them or dice them and put them back in the sauce. Or, leave them whole. Since we don't do the whole primo/secundo thing at our house, I like to dice them up so I get yummy sausage in every bite.
When your pasta is done (don't overcook it!!), reserve about half a cup of the pasta water before you drain it. Return the pasta to the pasta pot, and put in a couple cups of the sauce and the pasta water. Stir it all together. Serve, garnished with a good freshly grated pecorino romano and red pepper flakes, and extra sauce on the side.
This sauce is also really good over polenta. It freezes beautifully, too.
Tried this out this week after seeing the White On Rice post featured on Tastespotting. The recipe’s here – it is exquisite. Try it. I used buttermilk instead of sour cream, and an 8 inch pan with a parchment collar (I wanted it taller), and went chiffon-style on the batter. But this is truly one of the best cakes I have ever had. Office mates LOVED it!
Had to make one for work and one for home, or I’d never hear the end of it.
One of the ladies at work made her own Sunday for a family breakfast, and it was huge hit there, too. YUM!!
Bill is full of catchy little sayings – “What’s the word, hummingbird?” and “Don’t let your meat loaf.” They make me groan and laugh at the same time. He also decided we should call these duchess potatoes, “tater titties”. Despite all this I love him, Pa. And I’d rather have duchess potatoes than tots any day.
That being said, meatloaf is a popular dish at our house. For dinner and then sandwiches the next day (With mayonnaise -something else Bill taught me. I always thought ketchup was best, but I was wrong!)
We’re partial to ground turkey in our house – the old beef/pork combo is just too rich for us.
Want to try it?
Meat Loaf, Don't Let Your
Easy turkey meatloaf with a spicy sweet tomato glaze, served with a chunky tomato sauce.
(Ok, ok - I just totally made up those glaze measurements because I just squirt them both on and then smear them about.)
For the sauce
1 14oz can diced tomatoes with onion, celery & bell pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1&1/2 tsp worsteshire sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp ginger powder (or better yet, a quarter-size piece of candied ginger slice)
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a small cookie sheet with silver foil and spritz it with non-stick spray.
Grate the onion in the mixing bowl. Chop the pepper, add to bowl along with the egg and bread crumbs. Mix with a fork. Add the ground turkey. Mix gently with your hands. In the bowl, form the mixture in to a general loaf shape. Invert the bowl on to the prepared cooking sheet and touch up the loaf shape.
Squeeze the ketchup and sriracha on to the loaf, and using your fingers since they're already dirty, mix the two sauces and spread them evenly on the top, ends and sides of the loaf. Slide a meat thermometer in to that bad boy and in to the oven he goes. Should be done (165* ) in about 35-40 minutes.
Let it rest for five minutes before serving.
For the sauce
Once the loaf is in the oven, put all the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan on low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meatloaf is done. Serve with the slices.
You could cook this in a loaf pan, but cooking it "open style" on the cookie tray makes for that yummy crust and glaze on three sides of the loaf instead of just the top.
Be careful with your ground turkey selection - read those nutrition labels because some can be 80/20. If you're going that route, may as well do a ground beef meat loaf!
Easy-peasy leftovers: some romaine heart wedges, some sliced onion & leftover steak topped with a mix of corn, black beans and poblano chilis (also known as this– hey, it says “easy”, go ahead and chop your veg if you’re feeling it), topped with my second all-time favorite salad dressing: Smokey Tomato.
We used to have a bargain chain grocery in town called Sunflower. They had this awesome house-brand smokey tomato salad dressing that was only $1.99 a bottle – $1.79 if you caught a sale. Then, they were purchased by Sprouts, and the house brand went away. It was replaced with Drew’s Smokey Tomato. Which is freakin’ delicious – but it goes for $3.49 a bottle. I just can’t pay that much for salad dressing. So….the interwebs helped me research the ingredients, and few tries led to a pretty close approximation.