Rigatoni with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Sauce

This recipe was an instant favorite in our house; it was incredibly easy to make and sooo good!

My husband and I are big fans of spicy food, so we really enjoyed this one.  It’s not eye-watering spicy, but just enough heat and flavor to add a little kick.  The original recipe for this dish included heavy cream. I wanted to lighten it up a little so I changed it up a bit, but I bet it would be super good with cream!! You could probably skip the milk as well if you want a more tomato-style sauce.

Here’s the recipe for Rigatoni with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Sauce:

Inspired by the recipe: Sausage with Rigatoni and Tomato Cream Sauce

1 Package of Rigatoni pasta, cooked to al dente

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 Tablespoons of butter

2 Tablespoons of flour

1 cup milk (I used 1%-that’s what I had in my fridge)

1 Pound of Italian Sausage, casings removed

1 Large yellow onion (or 2 small), thinly sliced

2 Medium garlic cloves, chopped

1 Cup chicken stock

1 Can of Ro-Tel tomatoes

1/2 Teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

1/2 Teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes (I may have used more like 1 1/2 teaspoons; add in 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you have the desired flavor.  I like spicy food, so I add more!)

1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Teaspoon chili powder

1 Teaspoon garlic powder or salt

Large handful of parmesan cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top

Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Once the olive oil is heated, add the butter and allow it to melt.  Add the onion and saute it until it begins to caramelize.  Remove the Italian Sausage from the casings and add it to the sauteed onion; break the sausage up with a wooden spoon as it cooks and brown it until it is completely cooked through.  Add the garlic and cook for about 2-3 more minutes, then drain the extra fat.

After you’ve drained the fat, add 2 tablespoons of flour to the sausage/onion mixture and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil, then allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes or until the broth has reduced.  I reduced it by about half so the pasta would be thicker.  Add the Ro-tel tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the milk, then bring back to a boil.  Once the sauce has begun to boil again, reduce back down to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes more.  Add the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic salt or powder, and salt and pepper and stir to combine the ingredients.  I allowed the sauce to simmer for about another 10 minutes, but you don’t have to do this step if you don’t want to or are short on time.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.  Add a large handful of parmesan cheese to the pasta and combine.  I also sprinkled a little extra parmesan cheese on top before serving.

I served this pasta with homemade garlic bread with parmesan cheese; the bread was great for dipping in the sauce.  So yummy!!!!

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Sausage and Red Pepper Risotto

I’ve been dreaming of making my own risotto for some time now.  I always had the impression that making risotto would be a daunting task; I’ve seen what happens to ill-prepared risotto in Hell’s Kitchen!! What I discovered is that it isn’t difficult to make risotto, it just takes a little time and attentiveness.

This is actually the second recipe for risotto that I’ve prepared.  My first endeavor was a risotto with smoked gouda, prosciutto and chicken.  I loved the flavors, but didn’t quite get the consistency right (it was my first time making it, so I’m allowed a little margin of error!!)  After getting some advice from a great friend (thanks Christie!!), I got what I think is the perfect consistency in my second attempt at risotto.  I will make the first recipe again and post it, because I think the flavors were amazing!  But, you all know how much I love smoked cheese, so I’m a little biased.

I made this recipe because I  had some sausage that I needed to use, and I thought it would go great with risotto.  If I were to make this again, I would probably use a spicy italian sausage instead, just to add a little more kick to the risotto.

Here’s my recipe for Sausage and Red Pepper Risotto; this recipe will serve 6.

12-16 oz Italian Sausage -I used about 12 oz, but if you like more meat, you can add more to it.  I would also suggest the spicy or hot italian sausage, to add a little more heat to the risotto.

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Yellow Onion, Chopped

3 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped or Minced

1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped

2 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice for Risotto

1/2 Cup Dry White Wine

**I probably used more like 3/4 to a cup of white wine, but you really can’t go wrong by adding more wine.  Make sure the wine you choose is a good wine.  If you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it.

6 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, or Parmigiano Reggiano if you want a little more bite.

2 Tbsp Butter-the butter is mainly to help the cheese melt without making the risotto sticky.

Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a large saucepan, warm the chicken stock over low heat for approximately 20 minutes.  You don’t want to reduce the liquid, you just want it to be warm.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the sausage until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula as it cooks.

When sausage is browned, reduce heat to medium-low and add onion, garlic and bell pepper.  Cook, stirring until vegetables are soft; this should take about 5-7 minutes.

Add arborio rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly

Add wine and cook, stirring until the liquid is absorbed into the rice

After wine is absorbed, add warm chicken stock one ladle at a time.  Stir the mixture as you add the stock, and allow each ladle of liquid to absorb before adding the next.  It’s important to keep stirring the rice as you add the stock; this will allow the liquid to absorb, and prevent rice from sticking.

After all stock has been absorbed, add butter and parmesan cheese and stir until butter and cheese have melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!!