Preparation - Easy
This dish is found more in America than in Italy, where sausages are appreciated on their own as a main course, or with cream in a pasta sauce. There are many alternatives in this recipe, and each will change the final dish - all are good so cook to your own taste!
FOR me, this dish is best when the sausages and pepper are grilled whole, separately, peeled and cut up and added to the sauce a few minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can poach the sausages in white wine and saute the pepper slices with a bit of garlic and oil, then add to sauce just before the end. Or you can saute the peppers with the onions in the same pan at the beginning, cooking and cutting up the sausages separately. The idea with the sausages is to keep the sausage grease separate from the sauce - and the idea of adding the sausage and peppers (you can even microwave them if necessary) towards the end of the cooking (5 minutes before you want to serve, say) is to keep the taste of the peppers and sausage distinct from the taste of the sauce, so that you combine several flavors as you are eating the dish. If your sausage is very salty, I would hold off salting the sauce until just before serving. Taste it, and add salt to taste at that point.
PREPARE the peppers and sausages as you choose (above).
GENTLY saute the onion and garlic (optional hot pepper) in the oil/butter until they are light golden brown. (NOTE: if you like a 'smokey' flavor in the sauce, saute an ounce or so of chopped bacon or 'pancetta' at the beginning, before you add the onions and garlic).
CAREFULLY add the tomatoes (they can splatter in a hot pan), the optional pinch of oregano and cook on low-medium heat, uncovered until reduced to the consistency of sauce that you wish (usually 10 - 20 minutes, depending on how much liquid there is with the canned tomatoes. Add a bit of water if the sauce gets too thick. You can also use fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded - they will take longer to cook).
SET 6 quarts of salted water to boil in a large pot for the pasta.
WHILE the sauce is reducing (becoming thicker), peel and slice the sausages into bite-sized chunks.
You can hold the sauce at this point - making sure to leave adequate time to reheat the sauce, add the sausage and peppers and continue heating for another 5 minutes or so before serving.
ABOUT 12 minutes before you wish to serve the meal, throw the pasta into the boiling water - it usually takes 8 - 11 minutes to cook, depending on the manufacturer, type of pasta, hardness of water and altitude - I say all this because the only way to know that pasta is done is to fish a piece out with a long fork, let it cool a bit, and take a bite - if it is slightly resistant (not crunchy) it is 'al dente' - cook it a bit longer if you like it more tender, but remember that it continues to cook a bit even after you drain it. You can reserve a little of the pasta water on the side to add to the sauce if the sauce is too dry - you can even do this on a per serving basis is some of your guests prefer their sauce with more liquid.
TRY to serve in a hot serving dish or on warm plates, especially in the cool seasons.
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