When I invited my in-laws over for dinner, I knew that I would face the challenge of what to make in order to suit all palates. I don't eat fish, my sister in law doesn't eat beef or anything spicy, my husband hates celery (really, just celery) and my brother in law doesn't express an opinion. So I began an exhaustive back and forth text chain with my sister in law to determine what foods she and I would enjoy in common (clearly the women are the problem in this particular equation).
What I came up with on the common "yes" list was:
Italian sausage - Yes if not spicy
Cream Sauce - Yes
Nuts - Yes
OK genius, now what?
Here is the recipe that was born of this conundrum:
Fettucine with Sausage and Walnut Cream Sauce
1 Lb Fresh Fettucini (**cooked to the package instructions)
1 Lb Bulk Italian Sweet Sausage
2 Tbs Olive Oil (1 for sauteing sausage, 1 for sauce)
3 Tbs Butter (1 for sauce, 2 for finishing)
1 Medium Shallot (chopped finely)
1 Large Clove of Garlic (unpeeled and smashed)
1/3 cup of Dry White Wine (I used Orvieto Classico)
2 Tablespoons Frangelico Hazlenut Liquer
1 &1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts
Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley (to taste)
In a large saute pan, cook sausage in 1Tbs olive oil over med-high heat, breaking it with a spoon into small pieces as it cooks. When browned nicely, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate with a few layers of paper towels to drain.
Pour off the sausage grease (leaving the yummy brown sausage bits behind in the pan, of course) and add remaining Tbs of olive oil and 1 Tbs butter. Reduce the heat to medium and when the butter has melted, add the shallot to the pan. Cook until the edges start to just brown then drop the smashed garlic clove into the pan. Saute for a minute or until you can smell the garlic.
Add the white wine and Frangelico and turn the heat up to medium high, scraping any bits of sausage from the bottom of the pan as the wine and liquor reduce. When you have reduced to about a third of the original volume, remove the garlic clove and add the heavy cream. Continue cooking until the cream starts to thicken a bit, then add the sausage to the pan and throw in about 75% of the walnut pieces, reserving the rest for garnish. Cook about 2 minutes to heat the nuts and sausage through.
Taste, then *season with salt and pepper.
Add your **cooked pasta to the pan of sauce and toss to coat. Throw in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, some chopped flat leaf parsley and a handful of Parmesan, again, reserving some of the parsley and cheese for garnish.
Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary and garnish with remaining cheese, parsley and nuts.
*I season on the conservative side at this step as the pasta and its residual water and the Parmesan will add more salt to the dish when you incorporate it.
**I under cook the pasta by 1 minute as it will cook in the sauce. I don't strain the pasta, but remove it from the water with tongs, allowing a little of the cooking water to come with it.
This is an original recipe and is protected under copyright laws. Please cook and enjoy, but don't publish as your own.