November 09, 2010

Sausage and Mushroom Ragu: Good for your Soul

I did one of those big, ambitious grocery runs on Friday and bought all the meat and produce I'd need for meals this week. This involved planning the week's meals ahead of time, which is a pretty big deal for me. I still have the piece of paper I wrote my plan on, which is also a pretty big deal for me.

Of course, I keep running into things that mess up my meal plans, such as getting home three hours later than I thought I would from a simple doctor's appointment yesterday. I'd complain more about the ridiculous wait, but I'm getting free Tricare, so I'll hold back. This means that my plan for last night's dinner (roast chicken with ratatouille) had to be defenestrated (gosh, I haven't used that word since exam period during sophomore year of college), because I only had about an hour and a half before I had to be at my first Whole Foods, Healthy Eating class (more on that soon!).

I did a quick scan of the fridge and the pantry to see what I could throw together a little bit faster, and decided to wing it and try a spicy sausage and mushroom ragu (which is just fancy Italian talk for meat sauce) with a bit of goat cheese mixed in to add some creaminess. Unfortunately, I was in too much of a rush to take pretty pictures, so you'll just have to pretend that the finished product looks appetizing.

Sausage and Mushroom Ragu with Goat Cheese

  • 1 lb. Spicy Pork or Chicken Sausage (loose, or with casing removed)
  • 2 cups chopped Baby Bella mushrooms (although any kind will work here)
  • 3 cups tomato sauce (preferably homemade...I used a mixture of jarred and homemade because I ran out of my own)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/3 cup creamy goat cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Red pepper (flakes or powder) to taste (I used about a teaspoon)
  • Celery salt (or regular salt) to taste (I used half a teaspoon)
  • Olive oil for sautéeing mushrooms, about 3 Tablespoons
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sautée, stirring occasionally, until they darken in color and soften up a bit (about five minutes).

2. Stir in the garlic and the sausage meat, breaking the meat up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook meat until it's thoroughly browned, then spoon out most of the fat (save a little for flavor).

3. Stir in the red wine, tomato sauce, red pepper and celery salt, and then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about twenty minutes. During this time, prepare your favorite type of ribbed pasta, such as rigatoni.

4. Drain the pasta and return it to its pot. Add the goat cheese and spoon in enough sauce to coat the pasta, then stir the mixture together until the goat cheese melts and the sauce becomes creamy. Serve immediately.

I served this with a simple Greek salad, and the meal was lovely (it even passed the Does T Have Seconds test). The heat and creaminess of the sauce is so nice with the thick rigatoni, and, for such an easy meal, it's very satisfying. It goes perfectly with a strong glass of red wine, and it's much faster than roasting a chicken.

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