This is the recipe that I needed the homemade tomato sauce for. It had all the elements on what I'll eat in a pasta dish so I didn't have to play around with it or take out any ingredients, as I'm prone to do. Getting the red wine was a little tricky since I don't drink and know nothing about wine so I had to look through the wine selection at Trader Joe's and go by the shelf labels to figure out which was the red wine and which bottle to get (merlot? burgundy? "plain" red wine? what's the diff??). Glen, my wine aficionado friend, would shudder at my ignorance but there you have it. Besides, the recipe only called for 2 tablespoons of the stuff and it's not like I'm going to drink it so my standards for wine weren't that high.
As I've been taught in culinary school, I got my mise en place ready before I turned on the stove. That means I got everything ready beforehand - water heating up to boil the pasta, the onion, bacon and sausage cut up and ready on the cutting board, the bottle of red wine open and the tablespoon measure beside it. The only substitution I did was to use turkey bacon instead of regular bacon, mostly because I prefer turkey bacon. I knew it wasn't going to yield as much fat as regular bacon so I added a little olive oil to saute the bacon and onions. Turkey bacon doesn't really fry up crisp like regular bacon so I only sauteed it until it was cooked rather than crisp. Once you fry the sausage and remove it from the skillet then add the red wine, the reduction goes quickly. I confess mine nearly dried out in moments so I must not have moved very quickly. I added the homemade tomato sauce before it was all gone so crisis was (mostly) averted.
This was a pretty easy recipe to put together. It was good and I liked the sausage and bacon aspect of it. It might've had a bit more crunch if I had used regular bacon but I was okay with the turkey bacon. The tomato sauce itself was a bit more bland than I expected and I'm not sure if that's from the tomatoes I used perhaps not having a lot of flavor. It wasn't even acidic as some tomato sauces have a tendency to be. Bear in mind I tend to have bland taste buds to begin with and generally don't eat a lot of spicy food so if this strikes me as a little bland, people who like spices might want to make a few modifications and add some heat. Next time I might add a few more spices, especially more basil leaves in the initial roasting of the tomatoes and onions. I couldn't really taste the onions which to me is a good thing but the sauce might benefit from a little addition of garlic. However, I will say that overall I was pleased with how fresh the sauce tasted. Which comes from using the homemade tomato sauce. Now I can see why real cooks can be fanatic about only using the freshest ingredients. It really does make a difference in how your cooking tastes.
½ medium onion
3 ounces bacon
1 link hot or sweet fresh Italian sausage (6 ounces)
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 ¾ cups tomato sauce
3 ounces rigatoni pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese as needed
1. Cut the onion into thirds lengthwise and then thinly slice it crosswise. Cut the bacon crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide pieces. Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, then cut the halves crosswise at an angle into 1-inch-thick pieces.
2. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and bacon are browned, about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture into a colander to let it drain.
3. Return the pan to the stove and add the sausage. Cook, turning the pieces as necessary, until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage to the colander holding the bacon and onion. Toss briefly to combine, blot lightly with paper toweling, and set aside.
4. Return the pan to medium heat, add the red wine, and stir well to release any drippings. Let the wine reduce by one-fourth, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion, bacon, and sausage mixture. Cover the pan and simmer the sauce over low heat until flavorful, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Cook the rigatoni in salted boiling water according to directions on package. Drain the pasta in a colander, shaking it to get rid of the excess water. Add enough of the sauce to dress the pasta and toss to combine. Spoon the pasta into a warmed bowl and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.