Friends, you know how I am. I like to put sauce with pasta and finish it in the pot with some pasta water and fat. I can’t help myself, so I just go with it. And because I like it so much, and The Beloved is always Just Fine with eating anything with meat in it, I go with it A Very Lot. And such was the case a few days ago. But this time, there is a Story and a Rhyme to my Reason; A Method to my Madness; A Rose for my Thorn: Neese’s Sausage.
If you’re from North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia, you’ve probably heard of Neese’s Sausage. If you’re not from around these parts, you’re probably going to want to get your hands on some. And now you can, because you can order from their website! Hooray! (Um, supposedly. Maybe you could email them. Anyway, at least go there and see all the Piggy Goodness they are making over there). Neese’s has been making sausage in the Greensboro/High Point area since the early 1900’s. I’m pretty sure they use every part of the pig–they make things called “souse” and “liver pudding” and “scrapple” and A Curious Product called “C-Loaf.” I have no idea what C-Loaf is, but it is, according to their website, “a North Carolina favorite.” Alrighty then; I guess I’ll have to find some.
As a kid, I was always drawn to Neese’s waxed paper wrapping. It just seemed so much more authentic than sausage wrapped up in plastic. Plus, their sausage is Very, Very Tasty. Anyway, now that we’re back in NC, I can get Neese’s Sausage whenever I want. Except in the middle of the night because the 24 hour grocery store is Far From Home. So, The Beloved and I picked some up the other day. We also went to the State Farmer’s Market (which is Awesome) and bought some organic bell peppers–green, red and yellow. And I know they’re more or less the same thing, but still. We’re growing our own peppers, but right now they are pre-peppers, so there you have it.
The Neese’s we bought is a sweetish-mild pork sausage, and I thought, “What could possibly be better with sausage than pepper and onions?” The answer: nothing. So, that’s what I did. I made some pasta sauce with roasted peppers, tomatoes, onions and the sausage. It was Excellent, if I do say so myself. The sausage/onion/pepper combo would have been just as good in a frittata, a pizza, or a quiche, and maybe I’ll do that next time. But this time, here’s how it went:
Thank Goodness I Can Get Neese’s Again and Oh Look! Here Are Some Lovely Peppers Pasta
- 1 pound Neese’s (if you’re lucky) sausage
- olive oil
- 1 large onion
- garlic cloves (how much do you like garlic?)
- salt and pepper
- red pepper flake
- 2 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes
- a splash of some-sort-of-alcohol (within reason. Prolly you shouldn’t use Bartles & Jaymes)
- 3 bell peppers, charred your favorite way, peeled and seeded
- a bit of sugar
- a bit of vinegar
- a little butter
- grated parm
- cooked pasta, with about 1/3 cup of water reserved
Brown the sausage and get rid of a fair amount of the fat. Set the sausage aside, and cook the onions and garlic in the sausage fat. Oh, yeah. Splash in a little olive oil. Your heart with thank you. Add in salt and pepper, to taste, along with pepper flake and some fresh or dried Italian herbs.
Once the onions are nice and translucent, add the tomatoes along with a splash of alcohol. I used some red wine, but it doesn’t really matter. You’re trying to coax out the alcohol-soluble flavors in those tomatoes, and it will be worth it. That’s why vodka sauce tastes so good. Cook for a couple of minutes to let most of the alcohol cook off.
Throw the sausage back in along with the peppers. You can pre-chop them, but they’re so soft after charring that I just mashed them up really well with my wooden spoon once they were in the pot. Plus, I like to play with my food. Let simmer away for awhile, taste, and adjust seasonings. At this point, you might need a bit of sugar, and I always add some vinegar to brighten the flavors, especially if I don’t want to go completely overboard with the salt.
Cook the pasta (I think I used whole wheat penne rigate) and then finish it in the pot with some of the sauce. This time around, I used butter and parm, but you can use any sort of fat/cheese combo you want.
And there you have it. Goodness from North Carolina, from me to you!
PS I just went to the State Farmers’ Market Website, and there is a Grammatical Error. ( “When you want the best ITS got to be NC Agriculture” ) And you know how I get about those. I’m seriously calling them tomorrow to Bring It To Their Attention.
PS I now realize there are THREE errors: the apostrophe-less its, the no-comma-after best, and the no-period-at-the-end-of-the-sentence. Sigh. I hear Madison is nice this time of year…