ORECCHIETTE WITH RAPINI AND SWEET SAUSAGE

Instructions:

 

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Place the sausage, in the pan. Allow to cook until fat has been rendered, moving occasionally to avoid sticking. You will have to dump the rendered fat once or twice to avoid deep-frying the meat in its own fat. Remove the meat and set aside. Remove the excess fat from the pan, reduce the heat to low, and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Sweat the vegetables over low heat until tender, letting them get soft but not browned, for about 6 minutes. Add the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as you stir the wine in to dislodge browned bits of meat. Add the tomatoes, bring the mixture to a boil and return the sausage to the pan. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, until the mixture is at ragu consistency. Add more liquid if necessary to keep the meat moist.

 

Prepare the pasta dough according to the recipe. Cut the dough into four equally-sized pieces and roll each into a ¾-inch thick dowel. With a very sharp knife, cut small disks of 1/8-inch thickness from each dowel, and press the center of each disk lightly with your thumb to form a saucer shape. Place the orechiette on a sheet tray that has been sprinkled with semolina, cover with a clean dish towel and set aside.

 

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.

 

Drop the orechiette into the boiling water and cook until tender yet al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the broccoli rabe and ragu. Toss over high heat one minute, divide evenly among 6 warm pasta bowls, grate Pecorino Toscano over each bowl and serve immediately.