Friday, May 27, 2005

The Devil Made Me Do It

Well, not the devil, but fundraising. What? OK.

A couple years back I went to lunch with a donor I was working with. They were having some issues with the way we were doing things, we wanted to make it right. So, we went to lunch and worked things out. For lunch I had this lovely plate of pasta with a rich savory sauce.

I feel this is pretty easy and really tasty. Perhaps not that healthy, but who I am to "do" healthy.


Sausage and Leek Cream Sauce

1 lb loose sausage (mild or sweet)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
2 leeks (light green and white parts finely chopped and rinsed) (see note 1)
1 tsp, fennel seeds, lightly crushed (see note 2)
1 tsp, allspice
1 cup, chicken broth
1/2 cup, half and half or light cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large pan, brown sausage over medium high heat, breaking into small bits as you go.

When the sausage is nearly completely browned, lower heat to medium and add the onions and garlic and your dry spices. Stir and cook for two to four minutes, stirring regularly. Do not let the onions brown.

Add in the leeks and stir for one minute. Add the broth and simmer for 10 minutes, covered.

Remove cover and simmer for another 5 minutes, this will allow the sauce to reduce.

Add the half and half or cream, stir to incorporate and warm through.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a shapely pasta that will hold onto the sauce and sausage bits.

I also like to add a liberal sprinkling of some freshly grated parm!

A nice salad and crusty bread are great sides to this dish.

Note 1: Leeks are grown in a sandy loamy soil. As a member of the same family as onions, they are all layers...these layers, especially the light green and white parts we want for this dish, gather up sand and dirt as they grow. For cleaning, I like slice off the root bottom and choose where I cut the greens. When the light green starts to go from light to dark, that's the place. Once done, I will thinly slice the leeks into 'ringlets.' I'll place all of these in a large bowl filled with cold water. When you're done slicing, swish them around for a couple minutes. This will dislodge the dirt and sand, allowing it to fall to the bottom of the bowl. With your hands, lift the leeks out of the water and put in a strainer. Do not dump the bowl full of water and leeks into a strainer. This will just allow the sand to incorporate back into the leeks. Icky.

Note 2: I have a mortar & pestle that I use to lightly crush my fennel. That works, but is not necessary. You can just put them on the cutting board and press and crack them with a glass, or a tenderizing mallet. We're doing this just to release extra flavor!


1 comment:

Dancer in DC said...

Joy Johnson will back me up on this - there is no better "easy pasta" meal than this. This was the start of my love affair with leeks! Their mild flavor pairs beautifully with most meats, and if you've never had potato & leek soup you're missing out.

In contrast to what I said for the sausage gravy, in this case it's worth the splurge for a nicer sausage from the butcher. Stick with sweet, but spare no expense - the other ingredients are extremely cheap.

Also, don't skip the fennel seed. Fennel is, IMHO, the ultimate spice to go with sausage.

Out favorite shape of pasta for this is campanelle - they look like very tiny lasagna noodles that have been wrapped up into a bugle shape. They just hold the sauce so nicely, and there's nothing like taking a bite that has some hidden leek and fennel in it - divine!