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Ziti with Sausage and Fennel

(Ziti chi Sosizza e Finucchieddi)

SERVES 4

This is my play off of a recipe I found on Saveur.com, theirs called for Parnod which is an anis flavored liquor (think absinth) which I did not what to get just for the recipe.  I add a dark beer to enrich the flavor a bit, and since I could not find “strong” beef stock at the store I added a bit more stock but cooked it down a little extra.  Oh and I added the fennel frowns too, In theory to add more fennel flavor and because I like how they look in the sauce.

ziti-sausage-fennel

The overall result was wonderful, the fennel and sausage really came together well and the beer really added a nice hint of sweetness.  You could sub water or more stock for the beer though.  See below for other suggestions.

  • 3⁄4 lb. hot Italian sausage (use mild if desired)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup darker beer (I used a winter ale)
  • 1 bulb fennel diced
  • 2-3 Tbls. fennel frowns
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes as desired
  • 1⁄2 lb. ziti or other long, tubular pasta
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
italian sausage

breaking up the sausage

If you got sausage with casing, remove and discard it and brake up the meat.  Add it to a pan that is on medium heat.  I got sausage that was not in casing, in this case I add to pan but used a wooden spoon to break it up as it cooked.  You should not need oil since sausage is typically fatty enough but add some if using a lean sausage.  Cook until browned, stirring often, about 10 or so minutes.  Add garlic and cook for a minute or two.  Stir in fennel bulb and frowns, beer and stock, cook until fennel is nice and tender and liquid as reduced significantly, ten to fifteen minutes.  Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Fennel bulb

Fennel Bulb

Cook Pasta as directed on package while sausage/fennel cooks, drain then stir cream into meat mixture add pasta and cook for a minute while stirring to combine everything.  Garnish with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.

Cooking it all down

Cooking it all down

Cook’s Notes:  To make healthier, use chicken or turkey based Italian sausage, you will need to use a little olive oil for these less fatty meats to prevent sticking.  I might try some red and green peppers next time or grape tomatoes to add some color and added flavor.

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