Mara’s Rotini & pork ragú with juniper and porcini

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 large carrot, chopped fine
  • 1 large celery stick, chopped fine
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ lb. Italian pork sausage
  • 15  juniper berries, crushed with a mallet
  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 anchovy fillets, preferably cleaned salt cured, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, or 1+ tsp. dried
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed if dried, chopped fine if fresh
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1-½ cups canned Italian tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
  • 2 TB red wine vinegar
  • Salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 lb Mara’s Rotini
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Soak porcini in hot water to cover for 15 minutes or so while you get everything else together.

Melt butter with olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot. Sauté onions, celery and carrot together over medium-high heat for a few minutes, making sure all ingredients are amply coated with the oil/butter mixture. Remove the sausage from its casing and add the minced garlic and the sausage, a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper, and break the sausage up as you stir it around with a wooden spoon until it loses its raw, pink color.

Add the juniper berries, chopped anchovy filets, marjoram, and bay leaves. Add the white wine and red wine vinegar and let these bubble a few minutes.

Lift the porcini out of their soaking water with a slotted spoon, chop them fairly small, and add them, along with the strained soaking water to the pot. Add the tomatoes and their juice, and give everything a good stir. Bring the sauce up to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, at a low simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If the sauce starts to stick before the time is up, add a half cup of water, or if you like, the same amount of milk, and continue to cook.

Cook 1 lb of Mara’s Penne in salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes. Drain pasta, saving a half-cup or so of the pasta cooking water. Mix the sauce with the pasta, adding a little of the cooking water if you want to thin the sauce a bit. Serve with a little Parmesan.

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