This is probably one of my favourite pastas of all time, and it can be made in as little as 20 minutes. Originating in the central Italian town of Norcina, this dish uses pork and fennel sausages, cream, white wine and chilli flakes to create an aromatic and delicious bowl of pasta that’s first bite won’t soon be forgotten. This is Italian comfort food in its purest form.
Rigatoni Alla Norcina
• 320 g of dried rigatoni or other choice of pasta (80 g per person)
• 1 tbsp of olive oil (+ 1 tsp if pasta finishes before sauce)
• 360 g of pork and fennel sausages, with their casings removed (about 4 whole sausages)
• 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
• 2 tsp of dried chilli flakes
• 100 ml of dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
• 400 ml of pouring cream
• 20 g of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (very thinly grated)
• Salt (I like to keep a small bowl next to the stove for seasoning)
Optional garnishes and extras:
• Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (very thinly grated)
• Chilli flakes
• Flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
1. Fill a large pot or saucepan with water and season it until it’s as “salty as the sea.” Bring it to the boil and add your pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the water and add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pasta if the sauce isn’t ready yet.
2. Grab a large fry pan and place it on medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the sausage meat. Brown on all sides, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
3. Once the sausage has browned, add your chopped garlic, chilli flakes and two pinches of salt. Cook and stir until the garlic is aromatic (about 30 seconds).
4. Carefully deglaze the pan with white wine. Make sure to scrape up the fond that has caramelised at the bottom of the pan. Cook until the smell of alcohol has dissipated and the wine has reduced into a syrup. Note: If you’re concerned about a possible flare up, just turn off the heat, add the wine and turn it back on once the sizzling has settled down.
5. Turn the heat to low. Add your pouring cream and finely grated parmesan or pecorino. Stir and reduce until the cream has thickened. To test, draw a line through the sauce with a wooden spoon. If it takes a moment to join back up together then the sauce is ready.
6. If your pan is large enough, add your cooked pasta directly to the sauce and mix it together. If your pan isn’t large enough, combine the sauce and pasta together in a large bowl. Taste, and add salt if needed.
Serve with extra grated parmesan or pecorino, a few chilli flakes and some finely chopped parsley.
Recipe and photos by Kale Armstrong.