dinner for the in-laws

Friday, May 17, 2013

The first meal I made for my in-laws was ziti with meat sauce. The second meal I made for my in-laws was spaghetti with meat sauce. The third, well you get it, some rendition of meat sauce.

Change is good they say, so for our next meal, I made my in-laws this orecchietti with sausage and broccoli rabe. It is simple yet impressive. It won't leave you frazzled, unable to carry on conversation, yet it is comforting enough to make everyone a little more relaxed. Most importantly, delicious enough to have your father-in-law comparing your cooking to his off-the-boat Italian Grandmother. Apparently change is really good.

So next time your in-laws are coming for dinner, don't panic! Grab these ingredients after work, put out some fresh flowers, pour yourself a glass of white, and start cooking.

And remember, they are going to love you.

1 lb quality orecchiette pasta
1-1.5lb quality sausage (I use tomato&cheese or hot Italian)
1 large bunch broccoli rabe
1 clove garlic, minced
extra-virgin olive oil
quality peccorino Romano cheese
red pepper flake (optional) 

Bring two large pots of water to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse and trim the broccoli rabe removing the hard stems.You can keep the leafy part and the tender stems. If they are really large chop up the leaves slightly. However, they will fall apart though once you cook them.
When the water starts to boil add in the rabes and cook for about 20 minutes to remove the bitter flavor. About 10 minutes before the rabes are done, add a large pinch of salt to the second pot of boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente. Typically, about 7 minutes for dried and 2-3 for fresh.
While the pasta is cooking, use a sharp knife and make a long slit piercing the skin of the sausage in-order to make it easy to remove the meat from the casing. Add about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once oil is hot saute garlic for a minute. Add the meat that has been removed from the sausage casings and break up with a fork. Cook sausage until golden brown.
Once pasta is cooked, drain, and add to the skillet with the sausage. Drain the water from the rabes and add toss them with a little oil. Add the rabes to the sausage and pasta mixture.
Toss all ingredients to make sure they are well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add in a sprinkle of red pepper flake (optional).
To serve, add a drizzle of oil and a generous pinch of Romano cheese.


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