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Bombolotti al Modo Mio
Makes 4 to 6 Servings
*1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano (2 ounces)
*1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 ounce)
*1/2 lb. Italian fresh sweet fennel sausage (See Notes)
*1 tbls. olive oil
*1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
*1/2 cup white wine
*1 tbls. plus 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
*3 cups heavy cream
*1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
*1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
*1 lb. bombolotti pasta (mezza-rigatoni shape)
*1/3 cup firmly packed basil leaves, cut lengthwise into thin ribbons
*2 tbls. finely chopped parsley
1Combine the Pecorino and the Parmigiano cheeses in a bowl.
2Cut open the fennel sausage and remove the meat from the casing. Discard the casing and coarsely chop the meat.
3In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over a moderate flame and add the sausage pieces. Saute the sausage, stirring frequently, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the cooked sausage from the pan and set aside. Drain and discard the fat.
4Holding the pan away from the flame, pour in the brandy and wine. Return to the heat to cook the alcohol. If the brandy flames, simply allow it to burn away. Reduce over high heat to one third the original volume. As the brandy and wine reduce, scrape up any cooked bits of sausage stuck to the bottom of the pan to incorporate into the liquid.
5Add the cream to the pan along with a third of the cheese mixture, white pepper, pepper flakes, and fennel seeds if you are using them. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it coats the back of a spoon. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and the reserved fennel sausage and set the sauce aside while the pasta cooks.
6In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a rolling boil and add 1 tablespoon salt.
7Cook the bombolotti just until al dente and drain in a colander. Sprinkle the steaming pasta with half the remaining cheese mixture so the cheese melts directly onto it. Transfer the sauce to the empty pasta pot and bring to a boil. Add the cooked pasta and basil and combine thoroughly. Serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with the parsley and remaining cheese.
  • If you cannot find fennel sausage, use fresh Italian pork sausage and add 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds.

The foregoing is excerpted from Union Square Cafe Cookbook by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022