Italian Spiced Pork & Fennel Sausage Ragu
An Il Pirata Classic.
These sausages are about as close to a Tuscan sausage that any local supplier can produce.
I worked with Peter Hannan, owner of Hannan’s meats in Moria on the development of these sausages for about 3 months. Peter has a very obsessive nature when it comes to this sort of thing. He would not rest until we had perfected the recipe. We tried samples of different spice mixes, tried different grades of grinders for the perfect mince and even debated on the perfect skin to use.
This was the end result and I am so glad that we persevered until we had what I would class as the perfect Italian sausage made in Northern Ireland.
Once we had the sausage I knew that all we had to do was to cook it first on the char grill (this would add a beautiful smoky character to the dish) and then braise very slowly in a tomato and red wine ragù, finish with a little basil and that was it. I know that most of you won’t have a char grill in your kitchen, but a barbecue will work just as well or failing that this dish still works with pan fried sausages.
- 1 shallot roughly chopped
- 1 small carrot roughly chopped
- 1 stick of celery roughly chopped
- 1tblsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Pinch dried oregano
- 400ml red wine
- Pinch caster sugar or to taste
- 1 can good quality Italian tinned tomatoes, roughly chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1kg Italian pork & fennel sausage
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Place the onions, carrots and celery into a blender and pulse to a fine grind.
- Place a medium sized pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot and celery and fry over gentle heat for 10-15mins, or until they have taken on a light golden colour. Add the garlic and oregano and continue to cook over a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the red wine and bring to a rapid boil, reduce until almost evaporated. Add sugar and the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10mins, or until you have a lovely tomato sauce consistency. Season to taste.
- Turn the char grill or pan to high heat and place the sausage on. If using a pan add a little oil. Cook until the sausages are sealed all over. Remove the sausages and place them into the sauce. Continue to simmer in the sauce for approximately 10-12mins or until the sausages are cooked through. Remove from the heat and lift out the sausages.
- Using a pair of tongs and a sharp knife slice the sausages into chunks. Place the sliced sausage back into the sauce and check seasoning.
- Spoon the sausage ragù onto hot serving plates. Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the ragù, spoon over a little extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.