Ethan Simon contributed this recipe. He’d like his grandchildren to call him Papa (pronounced Puh-puh).
Papa based this Ragú on Samin Nosrat’s recipe but simplified it to cut the preparation time (he makes this every week!). Papa hopes you enjoy the, “little bit of this, little bit of that” style cooking that Nosrat encourages.
Preparation: Finely chop the onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms.
Remove the raw sausage from its casing and break into pieces the size of walnut-halves.
Heat a dutch oven or enamel pan over medium heat, and once hot, add the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add all the sausage pieces and season to taste with fresh-cracked pepper, chili flakes, and paprika based on how spicy your sausage already is. Stir the sausage pieces to coat with oil and cook until brown on all sides (4-5 minutes, stirring every two minutes). Papa likes his sausage slightly charred, but don’t go overboard and dry it out. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to set aside, and leave the oil in the pan.
Keep the pan over medium heat, and slide in the onions, carrots, and celery, reserving the mushrooms for later. Drizzle more olive oil onto the vegetables, stir to coat, and then add two generous pinches of salt, more fresh-cracked pepper, and some paprika for color. Cook the vegetables until soft and brown around the edges (10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally). Reduce heat if they’re browning too quickly.
Mince the garlic just before the vegetables are finished cooking. When they’re finished, reduce the heat to shy of medium, and add the garlic, mushrooms, and cooked sausage pieces. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.
Pour in the chicken broth, wine, and milk, and stir in the tomato paste, parmesan rind, and a delicate pinch of nutmeg. Reduce heat so the sauce is only simmering, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pasta: Boil the water over high heat. Add and dissolve 3/4 Tablespoon of Kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook to al dente (test its firmness by biting a noodle before the box’s recommended cooking duration). Scoop out some of the pasta water in a heatproof measuring cup and set aside for later use. Drain the pasta.
Assembly: Pour a little pasta water into the reduced sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste the sauce, and if needed, adjust the ingredients as such:
More salt and seasonings to taste
Needs acidity? Add wine
Too bland? Add tomato paste or milk
Too rich? Add pasta water
Too thin? Add chicken broth
Once it tastes great, dump in the baby spinach and stir. Cover with the lid, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Combine the pasta and sauce, or dish out the pasta naked and spoon the sauce on top. Either way, garnish with fresh-chopped parsley.
🙂 Buon appetito!