Rigatoni with Sausage Sauce

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It’s raining outside, AGAIN! We keep getting glimpses of summer and then another monsoon seems to hit New York. I should be writing about light salads and summer cocktails but my stomach (where my brain generally resides) seems to be stuck on hearty pastas. For those who know me, there’s nothing very new about that.


Of all the pasta sauces that I make, this is the one that is most requested and my go to recipe when feeding a large group of people. The recipe comes from the original River Café cookbook and has two versions made by a husband and wife respectively. I could never figure out which one I preferred so I merged the two together and have been making it for so long that I don’t think it resembles either one anymore. The amounts below are just a guideline as you can’t really go wrong. As with so many meat sauces, the longer you cook it, the better it gets. As I write this, the pot on my stove has been slowly simmering away for the last 4 hours and I’ve barely checked on it.


Rigatoni with Sausage Sauce

Serves 8


2 lbs. of Rigatoni

1 large onion finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

8 sausages removed from their casing (5 sweet and 3 hot – this can be switched if you prefer it spicier)

1 cup red wine

2 (28 oz. cans) of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes

½ cup of heavy cream

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese



1. Sweat the onions and rosemary in a heavy cast iron Dutch oven on medium heat until translucent for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the sausages and mix well with the onions. I use a potato masher to break up the sausages.

3. Cook until the sausages are no longer raw – about 5 minutes.

4. Add the wine and cook for another 5 minutes until most of the wine has evaporated.

5. Add the cans of tomatoes and again, use the masher to break up the tomatoes.

6. Reduce to a simmer and let it bubble slowly away for a minimum of 3 hours.

7. Fill a large pot with water and salt generously.

8. Cook pasta as per instructions on the box and then drain.

9. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and then add the cream and cheese and stir well over low heat for a couple of minutes.

10. Serve with extra grated parmesan cheese.

I like to add a handful of (defrosted) frozen peas to the sauce but have recently discovered some real pea haters out there so have left out for their benefit.


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