Whenever I cook this pasta, I think immediately of my mother. She invented the recipe while I was in high school running cross country. It quickly became my favorite dinner, the kind of carb-and-meat dish that would give me energy and stamina. So when I was visiting home this past week it was on the top of my lists of requests. And moms hardly ever pass up the opportunity to fill a son's request for home cooking.
This recipe is basically a more delicious version of the standard spaghetti-and-meat-sauce dinner of so many American childhoods. Instead of browned ground beef, my mom would simmer Italian sausages in beer, then slice them into the sauce. The sauce itself is a straightforward affair with onion and garlic in olive oil, canned diced tomatoes, a few dried herbs, and salt and pepper. But the juicy sausages take it to the next level, especially with a few spoonfuls of the pork-fat-infused beer broth that goes into the sauce. I mean really, why should that stuff go to waste?
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausages
- 1 inexpensive beer
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 42 ounces canned diced tomatoes, drained if watery
- A few shakes of dried basil, oregano, or combination
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound spaghetti
Combine the beer and sausages in a shallow pot so all of the sausages are mostly submerged. Bring to a boil, then simmer 15 to 20 minutes until sausages are almost cooked through (they will finish in the sauce). Remove to a cutting board to cool, slit the casing lengthwise to remove, then slice into medallions.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until soft and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, seasonings, sausage, and a few spoonfuls of the sausage cooking liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 to 30 minutes until the flavors combine.
Boil the pasta until al dente and serve with Parmesan cheese.