Food You Can Eat: Penne with Sausage+

Those were the penne with sausage+ days, my friend

Image via Yours won't look quite like this but close enough.

This is an old Food & Wine recipe that I dug out of the archives, from the days when we used to have people over for dinner. Sigh. As I write this I’m coming up on the 23rd month since the last time I ever made a meal for anyone other than The Better Half, The Ravenous Hound, and myself. Coincidentally, that “Last Supper” was also a penne dish:

IMPORTANT EDIT THAT YOU ALL MUST KNOW ABOUT: The day before Easter I broke a 26-month streak and had 2 (two) people over for brunch. It reminded me of when I got out of the physical rehab facility last year, where I had to be trained to safely sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed, never mind walking, which came later. The longest journey, etc.

To the original F&W recipe I added garlic and mushrooms, because why not. This serves 4 and you will accompany it with a salad and toasted, crunchy French bread, F&W helpfully instructed me. I was going to go for a side of Doritos and some Jell-O salad.

1 lb. penne, use a little more or less, depending on what you have.

A little olive oil

About 1 cup sliced mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 lb. Italian sausage. I used “spicy” (never spicy enough) but you can use sweet if you want. Remove the casings and crumble.

3/4 cups heavy cream

3/4 cups dry white wine

Note: I made this once and didn’t use wine; I used a little more cream and substituted the wine with about 1/2 cup white vinegar

3 tbsp. grainy mustard. F&W specifically calls for grainy, I think because in the grains resides the most mustardy taste of the mustard. As it is the mustard in this recipe doesn’t overwhelm, so the next time I made this I used 4 tbsp. of what else, Dijon, and it came out fine.

A little red pepper flakes. A “pinch.”

1 cup basil, diced, from your Handy Rooftop Herb Planter

Grated parmesan or Pecorino cheese

This is really simple. In a pasta pot boil the penne until al dente. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet, add olive oil and heat the garlic for a couple of minutes, stirring, then add the mushrooms for another couple of minutes, stirring, then add the sausage on medium-high heat and brown it for 5 minutes, breaking it up even more with a spatula.

Now you probably have more juice than you want so try to remove some of it. Do this with a big spoon because you want to leave some of the juices in there. Next up, add the wine or the vinegar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, scraping up the stuff that will insist on clinging to the pan. The liquid should reduce by about half.

Take a really quick break because your pasta must be done by now, so drain it into a colander and return it to its pot.

Now add the cream, the mustard, and the pepper flakes to the skillet. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Move the skillet to an unused burner.

F&W very ambitiously tells you to add the pasta and the basil to the skillet. Mine, alas, is not up to this task, so add the basil to the pasta in its pot and pour in the skillet mixture. Mix this around so the pasta gets coated and everything is generously distributed. 

F&W doesn’t believe in gilding the lily, but I do. Put this creation divided among four plates, and then in the middle of the table put a bowl of the grated cheese with a spoon and let everyone adorn the dish as they see fit.



  1. I see now that @butcherbakertoiletrymaker and @elliecoo and I have cobbled together an FYCE theme for this week, which is carnivore myocardial infarction risk.

    *** SPOILER ALERT ***

    The upcoming Celebrity Sunday Matinee is not going to be much better.

    However, I have found two celebrity recipes for Smoothies that I’ll slot in at some point. Yes, people drank smoothies in the 1960s and the 1970s but they were very niche and called things like “health shakes” or “berry drinks.”

    • Your instincts, of course, are correct. I wish I had thought of using an infused vinegar. I don’t always cook with white wine but when I usually would and need to substitute because of guest preferences I just think “use a little less white vinegar instead.”

    • All things in moderation, says your Csn. Matt’w, who has a diet that confounds his doctors. Did I ever tell you (all) that when I was institutionalized last year they sent a lovely dietician around at some point? I was out of the woods from the hospital treatment and in the beginning stage where I’d be shipped off to physical rehab.

      “Now Mr. Crawley,” she said gently, referring to her iPad, which had my voluminous test results, “tell me if you can remember what you are used to eating before you came to see us. What is your diet like?”

      My mind was clear as a bell so I rattled off what I had made for us for the previous seven or eight days before I fell ill and finally became their “guest.”

      “Are…are you absolutely sure? Your results contradict what a man of your age with that kind of diet…”

      Better Half was there, we spent two hours or so every day around lunchtime together in my room, and he piped up: “Tell her about the wine!”

  2. I’ve gotten a version of this from Hello Fresh that was very good. Can’t really go wrong with the combo, unless, for example, you’ve had a heart “incident”.

    • There’s a really simple way to make this, as I learned from a relative whom I was visiting:

      Boil a big box of pasta, to them it didn’t matter what. Penne is the best for this because something in the spaghetti family makes a huge mess and something shaped like orecchiette makes this a little unwieldy. Fry up some breakfast sausage links. Microwave a bowlful of a supermarket jar of alfredo sauce. Drain the pasta, cut up the sausage links, mix with the cooling alfredo sauce, pour over the pasta, and serve. Total time: 10 or so minutes. Feeds: 8, when I had this.


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