Emilia Romagna is known in Italy for its strong culinary tradition. This dish exemplifies all that is delicious about the region, and it's rustic comfort food. It is most typically found in or around the countryside of Bologna. Gramigna literally means "little weeds", it is a curly looking kind of egg pasta that is not easily found outside of the region, but you can substitute dried cavatappi or casarecce with good results if you need to. The nice thing about the sausage ragu is that it can easily be prepared in advance and reheated. Perfect for a cold winter evening, it never disappoints.
1 lb. gramigna or 1lb. dried cavatappi or casarecce
For the sauce:
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. sweet Italian sausage
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 carrot minced
1 clove minced garlic
2-3 sage leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 lb. roma tomatoes chopped or 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes with their liquid
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
In a large skillet, brown the sausage meat which you will remove from its casing. As the sausage is browning, break it apart into small pieces as you stir with a wooden spoon. This should take about 15 minutes. Then, remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan. Next add the olive oil to the skillet keeping the heat to medium. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, and parsley, and saute for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown and become golden.
Next, add the sausage back into to pan with the sage, stir for a few minutes. Then, add the tomato paste and the wine. Bring to a low boil, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and leave the sauce mostly unattended for another 10-15 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Finally, add the chopped tomatoes (either fresh or from a can), and bring the sauce back to a boil. Return to simmer and stir often for about 5-10 minutes. You probably don't need to add salt, but do taste to check for seasoning.
While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a strong boil. Drop in the pasta, and cook according to package directions or desired doneness. It should be al dente. When pasta is done drain it in a colander.
Once the sauce is ready, Add the pasta to the skillet along with about half of the grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Toss to combine completely. Then serve your pasta family style in a large serving dish, or in individual pasta bowls, with the remaining cheese dusted on top. Serve with a nice warm baguette to enjoy with any remaining sauce, and a nice bottle of red wine such as a sangiovese or chianti.
Buon Appetito! Enjoy!