In 1996 we were given a copy of the River Cafe Book as a wedding gift. Its blue cover may be tatty, it may have splatters on many of the pages, but I love that book dearly. We use the recipe for sausage sauce most Fridays, though we no longer need the book. Conveniently using at least a cup of wine in the recipe, the rest of the bottle can easily be shared out during the course of evening. I remember freezing several batches while very pregnant with our daughter, knowing that we would keep up with our ritual once Ella was born.We have cooked it many countries around the world, and shared it with many friends over the years.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 italian spiced sausages, meat removed from skins and crumbled
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove
1 small dried chilli, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1/6 bottle red wine (Chianti/ Sangiovese)
1 x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes, drained
1/4 nutmeg, freshly grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
60g Parmesan, freshly grated
75 ml double cream
250g penne rigate
Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the sausage meat, stirring and breaking up the pieces. After the juice from the meat has evaporated and the fat begins to run, add the onion, garlic, chilli and bay leaves. Cook gently for almost 30 minutes until the onions are brown. Pour in the wine, increase the heat and cook until the wine evaporates. Now add the tomatoes, lower the heat and simmer gently until you have a thick sauce, almost 45-60 minutes. Season with nutmeg and salt and add the Parmesan and cream.