Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mafalda Corta with Sausage in Saffron Cream Sauce

First off, don't get confused by the name.  Mafalda Corta is just the shape of the pasta ... this dish will work equally well with a penne or gemelli - anything with some ridges to catch the sauce.  I used the Garofalo brand of pasta, but Barilla or another quality brand will do.  Second, this really takes no time at all, so go ahead and make it any night of the week!  And third: the saffron really makes a difference, so don't think you can skip it and get the same outcome.  Get the threads, not the powder.  It's not cheap - a small container will be around $9, but it will last quite a long time (I keep mine in the freezer).  You can sometimes find it at a supermarket, but Bulk Barn or a specialty store will carry it.

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 lb hot Italian sausages (about 2-3 sausages; you can also use mild or sweet if you prefer)
  • 1 cup whipping cream (you can substitute for 18% but I wouldn't skimp on the fat much more)
  • 1 lb mafalda corta or other ribbed/squiggly pasta
  • sea salt (or kosher salt) for seasoning
  • Parmesan for serving, if desired
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, combine 1 tbsp water with the saffron in a small bowl, set aside and let steep.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and thyme and stir until onion is soft, being careful not to brown the onion.
  3. Remove the sausage from its casing and add to the pan with the onion, breaking up the sausage into small bits with a wooden spatula.  Cook until almost fully cooked through.  Then, add cream, saffron mixture (get all those threads!) and a generous pinch of sea salt.
  4. Bring sauce to a boil, then turn down and simmer until slightly thickened.
  5. Once pasta water is boiling, cook the pasta until just al dente.  Before you drain it, reserve about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a bit of the water if you need to thicken the sauce slightly (only add a tablespoon at a time).  NOTE: it's best to slightly under-cook the pasta and let it finish cooking in the sauce - it will soak up some of the sauce in this stage, making it even MORE delicious!
  6. Serve immediately!  Then, tell everyone how easy and tasty this was and make it over and over again!! :)

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