Wide tubes of pasta are the ideal vessels for this chunky sausage sauce laced with red wine, fennel and chilli. Stand the tubes upright in the baking dish and stuff them with the sauce, making every bite the perfect mix of sauce and cheese.
- 500 gm dried paccheri or rigatoni
- 2 buffalo mozzarella balls (200gm each), torn
- Oregano and grated parmesan, to serve
Sausage and red wine ragù
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 400 gm pork and fennel sausages, squeezed out of their casings
- 125 ml red wine
- 400 gm canned cherry tomatoes
- 200 gm tomato polpa (see note) or passata
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, or to taste
- 30 gm butter, diced
- 30 gm plain flour
- 500 ml (2 cups) hot milk
- 50 gm parmesan
- 1For ragù, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and sauté until translucent (4-5 minutes). Add garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes, stir until fragrant, then add sausage and fry, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned (2-3 minutes). Deglaze pan with wine and boil until reduced by half (2-3 minutes). Add tomatoes, polpa and bay leaf, season generously and simmer until rich and thick (25-30 minutes). Stir in vinegar and season to taste (discard bay leaf).
- 2For béchamel, melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then stir in flour until sandy (1-2 minutes). Gradually whisk in hot milk until smooth, season to taste, bring to a simmer and stir continuously until thickened (1-2 minutes). Whisk in parmesan, check seasoning, then pour béchamel into the base of a lightly oiled 25cm-diameter baking dish.
- 3Preheat oven to 180C. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water until not quite al dente (8-10 minutes). Drain and stand paccheri upright in béchamel. Spoon in ragù, filling pasta tubes with sauce. Scatter with mozzarella and extra parmesan, and bake until bubbling and golden brown (15-20 minutes). Season, scatter with oregano and serve hot.
Tomato polpa, finely chopped tomatoes canned in their juice, is available from select supermarkets and delicatessens.
Drink Suggestion: A nice Chianti. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.