I don’t like sausage, and I never have. As a child, I viewed it as an easy way to disguise vile and repulsive bits and pieces of meat that I could never identify for purposes of individual inspection and rejection. As an adult, I eat the odd bit of Chorizo or Andouille, but still find most sausage too salty, too greasy, and too risky.
Among the bitter melons, pattypan squash and Fairhaven peaches at our Farmer’s Market, there is an ice chest of homemade sausages. They are made from locally raised pork, and come in an interesting assortment of flavors including cheddar, bacon cheddar, jalapeno, and garlic. They are a revelation. They are fairly coarse, and skinless, not too salty, greasy enough to get crisp but not to be oily, and they are flavored beautifully. Each bite is a nuanced balance of, say, garlic, pork, and a bit of sage. The first time Rob bought a package of the jalapeno sausages to eat for dinner, I bought myself a chicken breast to have instead. After a bite of the spicy, tender sausage I was hooked; I ate my chicken while glancing enviously in the direction of the smoky, crispy sausage in its roll.
Today, there was nothing left but cheddar bacon, and the woman who sells them (wearing full Austrian costume from laced bodice to dirndl, for reasons unclear to me) suggested a sort of BLT sausage sandwich including the sausages sliced lengthwise, on a sub roll with cheese melted over the top and some lettuce. She also suggested that it would be “good in pasta,” which got me to thinking about BLT pasta. The sausage had bacon, pasta could stand in for bread, tomato sauce could be the tomato element….
This is really not terrible original (I hear that Italians have been putting sausage in their sauce since at least the 1950s) and can involve the swapping of various items as long as you have a sausage with good (fresh) pork, pasta, excellent tomato sauce, and some basil to stand in for lettuce. I have looked on the Internet and found lots of cheddar sausage, and other interesting varieties (as well as instructions for making your own) but no other bacon sausage. It does seem to be gilding the lily a bit to put bacon into sausage. Let’s just say this recipe is, uhm, conceptual rather than specific.
- About 1 pound sausage, bacon cheddar if you can find it or make it, or another interesting flavor.
- 1 pound pasta of your choice (I like long, hearty noodles like fettuccine for this), cooked according to package directions
- 1 jar organic tomato sauce with chunks of tomato
- Fresh basil
- Fresh Parmesan or Romano, optional
If at all possible, grill the sausage to give it some smoke and depth. If not, pan fry it and drain, if necessary, on paper towels. Slice into 1/2 inch rounds.
While pasta is cooking, heat sauce and add cooked, sliced sausages. Cut or tear basil into small pieces (I like to make chiffonade, because I am a show-off). Drain pasta and place in large serving bowl. Add sausage sauce and mix. To serve, place pasta on plate and sprinkle with basil. Pass cheese separately.