**11/08/10 8:30 AM- Revised ingredient list & expanded directions**
Just trust me, I know it's a new concept to most people but it's so good! This is one of my family's favorite dishes and I haven't made this for anyone who wasn't won over by it. But don't bother making it if you're going to cut out ingredients... it needs all these components to taste right.
This recipe is from Rachael Ray 365 my most-used cookbook.
Check me out I used my tripod & the timer button on my camera to get some action shots!
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian Sausage (I buy the kind that's just ground meat, not in links)
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carton of sliced mushrooms
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup cream
a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2-3 Tablespoons thinly cut, fresh sage
Shredded Parmesan Cheese, a handful or two (please, not the stuff out of the green can)
a little less than 1 pound of pene pasta (In my opinion, if you use a full pound, the pasta to sauce ratio is too high. This is why I recommend you don't cook the full pound.)
Cook the Pasta according to package directions - try to time it so that it is done about the same time as the sauce so it can go into the sauce hot. It's a good idea to save a cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the leftovers when you put them in the fridge, the pasta will drink up the liquid from the sauce when it is in the fridge.
Heat a very large, very deep skillet over medium heat. My skillet is a whopping 12.5 inches across and 3 inches deep, I love it! Add the extra virgin olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the sausage to the pan, while it cooks break it up into bits with a wooden spatula. When the sausage is almost completely cooked push it to the sides of the pan. Add the onions and garlic to the center of the pan, when the onion is translucent push it to the sides and add the mushrooms.
Let the mushrooms cook for awhile without disturbing, as they begin to cook down move them around a bit so any uncooked mushrooms can work their way down to the bottom. The less you move them, the better they'll cook down.
A tip about mushrooms, this one learned form Rachael Ray on one of her cooking shows... you need to cook the mushrooms down, now and do not salt them. If you don't cook the mushrooms enough at this stage, they'll stay rubbery no matter how much longer you simmer them in a sauce or whatever. Also wait until they are cooked down to salt them. Once you salt the mushrooms they will release their liquid, with all that liquid in the pan the mushrooms will steam and not cook down properly. I don't know why it works that way, but trial and error have convinced me she was right!
When the mushrooms are dark in color and soft then you can salt & pepper them and cook a little longer. Stir mushrooms veggies and meat all together. You can see this is quite a hearty dish. Sometimes my brother is doing the no carb thing, he just dishes up the finished sauce into a bowl before I add the pasta. The finished sauce is so thick that photos can't really convey how much hearty food there is in the final dish. This is a great, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish!
De-glaze the pan with the wine. This means add the wine so that sizzles when it hits the pan, and use your spatula to work up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, they will dissolve into the wine and add to the flavor of the sauce. Add the chicken stock and heat for about a minute.
Add the pumpkin and stir together. It will be thick. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, get warm then...
Add the cream and stir together. It's ok you can scroll back up and look again (that's my favorite step, adding the cream, it's so silky and luxurious!
add two generous handfuls of Parmesan - more than it looks like here, I was adding it slowly trying to get the camera to catch the action. The original recipe says the Parm is optional and to pass it at the table. Don't make that mistake. I have found that adding the Parmesan cheese to the sauce at THIS stage, and letting it melt into the whole, is the key to making the pumpkin taste right in in a savory dish. It needs that salty pungent Parmesan flavor. If you just sprinkle it on at the end, the flavors are not going to meld with the sauce.
Add the fresh sage.
Add the pasta, stir together & serve while hot.
You might want to check out my post about how to Reheat Leftover Creamy Pasta