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Menu starring Fresh Italian Sausage

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Yesterday we made 4 dozen links of fresh Lucanica sausages, using Paul Bertolli's recipe from "Cooking By Hand." The sausage features organic pork from a neighboring farm, is flavored with rosemary, black pepper, and garlic, and is quite extraordinary. Now I need suggestions for a dinner party menu on Thursday night. I was thinking of starting with antipasto, and then serving the sausage grilled alongside a tomato sauce with pasta. Dessert is a densely chocolate torta from Lynn Rosetti't website. What would you serve? And any wine suggestions? Many thanks for your suggestions.

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  1. I would skip the tomato sauce and serve it with broccoli rabe and pasta. Classic and fabulous!!! Is that sausage recipe available online?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Felixnot

      Agreed, broccoli rabe is clearly the way to go.

    2. There's nothing like fresh made Italian Sausage. It goes well with sauteed onions, tricolored peppers, dry white wine, and capers and/or olives. Also great in a frittata, scrambled eggs, and much more. You can serve it with Sauteed spinach with garlic, fresh ground pepper, and lemon. Stuffed artichokes are great as well.

      1. i'd skip the tomato sauce too. a savory torta would look impressive. it's basically a cheese pie wrapped in puff pastry (i've also used phyllo). mix ricotta, fontina and parmesan with eggs and spinach. prepare a pan with layers of dough in bottom and up sides. add cheese mixture to pan, then cover with more dough. brush dough w/ a yolk and bake.

        wonderfully rich. if you make it in a springform you can unmold it too. serve with charred raddicchio or trevisano for added color.

        then again, italians wouldn't have a chocolate cake for dessert, lol. i'd make something citrusy, if i were having the cheese torta.

        1. There seems to be consensus here against a tomato sauce, although Bertolli suggests it with the sausages polenta -- and also on wilted greens. I'll consider the rabe with pasta, although I know some find rabe rather bitter. (My guests are not necessarily the most sophisticated bunch, but are the members of a non-profit board who I'll be treating.) Re: the chocolate torta (and it's Lynn Rosetto Kasper's recipe from her Splendid Table newsletter), it originated in Naples ca 1900 and was served by a Signora Bimbi at an estate in Puglia. However, I know traditions differ from region to region in a country. I used Bertolli's book, which has a whole chapter on pig, but the recipe can be found at http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jht....

          1 Reply
          1. re: TNExplorer

            I'll stick up for tomato sauce. Last night I had fresh Italian sausage from a local pork butcher, fresh pasta and a roasted tomato sauce that I put up this summer. With freshly grated romano cheese and a solid red wine it was great. I had planned to serve broccoli rabe as a side dish but never got around to it.

          2. A Milanese friend serves grilled sausages with polenta that is poured onto a marble slab in the middle of the table. Melted red peppers and onions OR a chunky, oniony tomato sauce go along with it, as well as some fontina melted in. Everyone scoops their own polenta off the table. It is a festive and impressive meal, but without a marble slab the polenta could be simply passed around.

            1. Brown sausges in sweet butter, place in a farliy hot oven until done, deglaze pan with red / white wine vingear. Serve over Soft polenta. The Tuscany way.

              1. White kidney beans cooked in chicken stock with onion, celery, carrot and diced tomato and adding pasta towards the end servedas a side with the sausage or with the sausage incorparated in.

                1. You probably want some kind of sauce because sauce provides a moistener. I'd suggest a simple red wine reduction with herbs(especially if you've got bit to scrape loose). Add the sausage just at the end to ease a little fat and flavor into the sauce. The wine sauce will help cut any fatty richness.

                  As for wines to serve -- a bolder Italian red like a Nero d'Avola or a Primitivo should stand up well.

                  1. Thanks for so many good suggetions. I think I'm sold on the polenta. If I make a simple tomato sauce (following Marcella Hazan's recipe), do I put that in a well in the polenta to serve? I'm cooking for 15, so the polenta will be poured onto a large platter (sure wish I had that marble slab!). Or is polenta for 15 a crazy idea?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TNExplorer

                      Polenta for 15 is in no way crazy. I might make it in two medium saucepans, rather than one giant pot, but I don't have a good reason why. My friend passes the sauce on the side, but your idea of putting it in a well in the polenta is great. Please report back.

                    2. For what it's worth, I've combined roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley, with sausage, added either pecarino romano or parmesan, a little evoo, and that's always worked well for me.

                      Happy cooking!

                      1. Marcella Hazan has a great recipe for sausage and black-eyed peas. It's in both her Classic Italian and Essentials cookbooks. Easy and very delicious. Your homemade sausages would shine.

                        1. Not to be nitpicky, but I thought loucanica (aka loukanika) is Greek?

                          1. I have a great dirty rice recipe that calls for a quality italian saasage, or, if you are really lazy, you can just add it to the box of Zatarains ;o)

                            1. for future reference, Molly Stevens has a terrific recipe for sausage braised w/ plums or grapes in All about Braising. I've made twice w/ grapes and love it, though I'm not really a sausage fanatic.

                              1. Thanks for all the suggestions. We went with the polenta, made from an organic ground cornmeal from a local Italian market here. Using a heavy enameled Le Creuset dutch oven and Marcella Hazan's no stir method led to excellent polenta. We poured it into a large platter and topped it with the grilled sausages and a little of the tomato sauce (the rest of the sauce was in a bowl) and one of the guests actually praised the presentation. Another asked for a left over sausage to take home. An arugula salad with dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds, dressed with EVO and red wine vinegar, completed the main meal. That and several bottles of a lovely 2003 Chianti from Castelina in Chianti. It was a lovely meal for a cold winter night. Also, the Signora Bimbi Double Choclate Torta was incredible and immensely popular -- so rich that a little goes a long way. For pre-meal nibbles, we had crostini, assorted olives, and a trio of sheep and cow's milk cheeses.

                                Re: the luganica/lucanica name, Paul Bertolli, Mario Batali, and other sausage formulation sources seem convinced that it's an ancient Italian recipe. However, the Greeks settled southern Italy a long time ago, so maybe there's a connection.