Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Funday: Cooking with Sarah - Tuscan Sausage Ragu

For this Monday Funday, I'm bringing you something completely different - Cooking with Sarah!  And because I enjoy cooking almost as much as I enjoy my dogs, it's still fun for me. :)

I rarely make a recipe exactly to specifications.  I like to, you know, mix things up a bit.  I altered this recipe to fit both what I had on hand from my garden plus a few alterations to fit how I like these things seasoned.  I found the original recipe at; my changes are in orange below. Why? Cause orange is my favorite color.

The best part of this recipe is that it spends the day in the slow cooker so I was able to do all the cooking required in the AM, before temps reached 90 degrees and I had de-motivated myself from using the stove.   And Hurley was great while I cooked - he didn't once try to eat the cooking sausage from the stove and just hung out in the kitchen with me!  I guess he was making up for stealing (and eating) a package of rolls, the last bit of a loaf of bread, an apple and my salad from the kitchen counter this week.

Tuscan Sausage Ragu

What I did:

2 T Olive Oil
1 lb Hot Italian Sausage
1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage
2 Small Red Onions (from my garden - if it weren't for the Hubster's hatred of onions, I would have used the equivalent of 1 large red onion, which the original recipe calls for.  My small ones from the garden equaled about 1/3 of your normal large red onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced (from my garden)
1 large zucchini, diced (from my garden)
1/2 cup dry red wine
6 Roma Tomatoes, diced (from my garden)
1 14 oz can Organic Diced Tomatoes (I used one smaller can instead of the 28 oz can the recipe called for since I was adding fresh tomatoes of my own)
1 28 oz can Organic Tomato Sauce
A couple dashes red pepper flakes
3 t Oregano (or thereabouts)
3 t Basil (or thereabouts)
1 1/2 t Sea Salt
2-3 Bay Leaves 
1 cup cream

Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Crumble both sausages into skillet and continue to break down into smaller pieces throughout cooking.  About half-way through cooking, add red onion, garlic & red pepper flakes.  Total cooking time of sausage should be 8-10 minutes.  Don't worry about it being 100% cooked - the slow cooker will do the rest.  Spoon sausage into slow cooker, leaving the oil in the pan.

Add zucchini and tomatoes to the skillet.  Add about 1 1/2 t basil, 1 1/2 t oregano and 1 t salt (I didn't exactly measure this out; I made a small mound in my palm until it looked about the right amount).  Stir in red wine.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until zucchini is starting to soften and tomatoes are starting to break down.  You don't want to over-cook the vegetables as the slow cooker will do the rest.  Empty skillet into the slow cooker.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato sauce to slow cooker and stir.  Add bay leaves and another 1 1/2 t oregano, 1 1/2 t basil, and 1/2 t salt.  My measurements are estimates of the small mounds I made in my palm - I eyeball it with spices.  I did not use Italian-style diced tomatoes like the recipe called for because our grocery store doesn't carry Organic Italian-style diced tomatoes so extra spicing was necessary.

Cook in the crockpot for 6 1/2 hours (I added more time than what the recipe called for since I was using some fresh tomatoes) on low.  Add cream and cook for one more hour.  Taste when cream is added to see if you need to adjust your spicing.  Or write instructions for the Hubster to get it started in a couple hours since you'll be gone for 8+ hours.

Serve over your choice of pasta and a side of garlic bread.  Goulash was a staple in my house growing up so I like to use macaroni or rotini and mix the sauce into the pasta.

This is where a picture
of the finished meal would have
been if I hadn't been so hungry,
that I forgot all about blogging. 

Now, this makes an unholy amount of sauce, especially for just 2 people.  So I froze about half of it for future meals.  The dogs thought this was unholy and would have much preferred us sharing some yummy sauce with them instead of freezing it for later.

What I Wish I Would Have Done:

This was a delicious sauce but I found that I shouldn't have added all the oil from the sausage & veggie sauteeing.  When I next make this, I'll be discarding half of the sausage grease before sauteeing the tomato & zucchini.  I also might add a bit of tomato paste to thicken the sauce up a bit.  Best added about the same time as the cream so you get a sense of how much the liquid has cooked down throughout the day.  A couple tablespoons ought to do it.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can totally use what you have on hand in terms of veggies.  Next time, I'm definitely adding a red pepper and mushrooms, while reducing the amount of zucchini.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds Delicious!!!!!
    I'm going to try this for sure :)